A stretch of dangerous suburban street could be turned into a parking-precinct territory in a plan to regenerate the heart of Napier suburb Maraenui.
The concept plan, now out for consultation and including new housing and new use for land which has been vacant since demolition or removal of dozens of state housing units in the area, was launched by the Napier City Council manager community strategies Natasha Carswell and Housing New Zealand Hawke's Bay area officer Andrew Cairns at a public meeting on Thursday.
The concept includes possibly transforming a stretch of Bledisloe Rd past the Maraenui Shopping Centre into a slow-speed drive-through zone, similar to Emerson St in Napier's CBD, allowing for pedestrian access across the road as the shopping area's grass reserve and playground is linked to vacated green-space on the corners of Darwin Cr and Bledisloe Rd.
Carswell said many concerns had been expressed about motor vehicle speeds in Bledisloe Rd, particularly because of the numbers of children in the area.
Allowance has been made on the green-space on the Darwin Cr side of Bledisloe Rd for a community centre for which the Council is setting aside $2 million, although the type of facility is still in the ideas stage.
"There will be changes along the way as we get more feedback," Carswell said. "We are continuing to meet with others in the community and stakeholders over the next few weeks."
City councillors Maxine Boag and Api Tapine, whose Nelson Park Ward includes Maraenui, are enthusiastic, saying in a Facebook post it was "great timing for a staunch community ready for a positive boost".
The presentation came in week when a synthetic drugs debate meant the area had suffered more of the stigmatisation that has dogged the area over many years.
The issue did not surface at the meeting, but the wider concerns were evident, including observations that the area had seen many promises come and go.
One woman, who had lived in the area most of her life, said she'd seen many plans put forward in the past, but none had been supported by any commitment, in terms such as the council's budgeting for a community centre as part of the staged development.
Carswell noted it also came at a time when the shopping centre, once a thriving hub with more than 20 retailers, had just become fully-tenanted for the first time in more than two decades.
Among the developments have been refilling of shops including the former Maraenui Dairy corner facing Bledisloe Rd and adjoining premises, while a new health centre is currently being built in Longfellow Ave, behind the shopping centre.