Ghost town

Is the CBD becoming a ghost town? We see too few people, too many empty shops and too many tatty buildings. Businesses are struggling against big-box and online retailing.

Markets are distorted by crony capitalism, corporate welfare and rates rises exceeding the CPI.

We suggest redevelopment around small-footprint boutique retailers, bars, cafes, restaurants, online and pop-up retailing, in a sustainable context of inner-city lifestyles. How?

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Boost visitor numbers by reopening the museum and SHMPAC. Redirect the CyWay along the lakefront to restore 124 parking spots. Improve shopper access by tightening and enforcing the parking regulations. Incentivise CBD employees to use the Pukuatua carpark building. Consider matching the free parking offered by the malls, after a rigorous review of the council's parking business model.

Boost residencies by revising regulations so that upstairs conversions into flats can occur as of right, instead of slow and expensive consenting saddled with parking requirements. Encourage real estate agents and landlords to trial weekly and monthly tenancies so that pop-up retailers can pilot start-ups, target seasonal markets, and test new product lines from local manufacturers.

Boost progress by appointing a councillor as a Business Ambassador. Consult owners in their many languages about their infrastructure needs, and about property makeovers, made mandatory if need be. Warmly celebrate Christmas, Diwali, Easter, Eid, Holi, Lantern and Matariki festivals. Encourage voluntary service organisations to manage markets, carnivals and lakeside concerts.

It means balancing four factors; people, profit, planet and progress.

Raj Kumar and Reynold Macpherson
Rotorua

A way to honour Beatrice Yates
There is a wish among Rotorua residents that we honour the life of Beatrice Yates (Aunty Bea) by naming the library after her.

However, many of us feel that the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre's strengthening would be more suitably named in her honour.

This was the field in which she was so loved.

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Her behind the scenes charitable fundraising was a huge contribution to Rotorua's modern face and health.

Although local, in my opinion, Sir Howard did not contribute anything like Aunty Bea and Tai Eru, who worked tirelessly.

(Abridged)

M N Miller
Rotorua