After years of arguments and opposition, the Foxton Main Street makeover is nearing completion.

The street was originally constructed wider than usual, which was reportedly to allow horses and carriages, as well as the town's famous horse-drawn tram to turn around, however initial plans to beautify the street would mean it was narrowed.

This aspect concerned the tram's operators who said it would reduce their safety margins.
These were among the issues that stalled development and the progress of the upgrade.
There was also an outcry about plans to move the town's cenotaph.

Locals staged a sit-in and called it "desecration," citing inadequate public consultation.


At the time of the protest, deputy mayor Wayne Bishop labelled protesters as "either ignorant or lack[ing] understanding" but the sit-in eventually resulted in the district council backing down.

Due to public criticism of their consultation process, the council hosted a public presentation which turned heated after they opened the floor to questions from the public.

The upgrade was designed to make Main Street safer and update its look, however residents were unhappy with the plans and concerned it would lose its character and historic feel.

Mayor Michael Feyen said the town was "squabbling" but agreed there hadn't been adequate consultation.

Council staff said that consultation had been extensive and featured meetings, displays of plans in public places and inclusion in annual and long term plans.

The upgrade is now mostly complete with ongoing minor tidying-up work underway, the council said.

James Wallace, Horowhenua District Council Roading Projects Team Leader said the project would improve the quality and quantity of public space in Main Street for the benefit of the Foxton community.

"The benefits of well-designed, pedestrian-friendly public spaces to people's quality of life, community wellbeing, safety and the economic well-being of communities have been proven time and again, in New Zealand and internationally," he said.

"We want Foxton to be a place people choose to visit, spend time and money, and creating attractive spaces outside our shops and cafes is crucial to achieving that."