I recently had the pleasure of being shown around our seaside suburb by Castlecliff resident and deputy mayor Jenny Duncan.
In addition to the rugged, natural beauty on offer just ten minutes from town, I was excited by the community leadership driving the area's changes, by the impressive progress made so far and by the massive potential this suburb still has to grow.
I believe that unlocking the potential of Castlecliff is a critical piece in growing Whanganui's economy.
Deputy mayor Duncan gave me an excellent context for the work that's gone on over the past few years. As a relative newcomer to Whanganui, I've only known Rangiora St as Castlecliff's vibrant, quirky commercial centre, and I recognise that this is thanks to years of effort by community-organised groups.
It took hard work, advocacy and vision on the part of Progress Castlecliff to bring about The Citadel, the library and the plantings and murals that brighten the street.
It's a great result and I understand the group is now turning its attention to Morgan St and the area around the North Mole. I look forward to seeing what they do.
While the Castlecliff community continues to put heart and soul into the suburb, it's important that Whanganui & Partners supports their efforts by identifying opportunities to unlock the suburb's economic potential and support development appropriately.
First, there is significant potential to increase tourism to Castlecliff.
We will continue to promote the beach and The Citadel in our visitor promotions, but we also need to create new reasons for people to go. We hope to see the Upokongaro Bridge in place before summertime, which will encourage riders on the Mountains to Sea Cycle Trail to end their journey at Castlecliff rather than Pipiriki.
Anything that makes Castlecliff easier and faster to reach will help make it a more attractive place to visit, live and do business. Both the completion of works on Mill Rd and the planned Fitzherbert Ave extension will help with road access.
Regarding Mill Rd, the industrial development here is an exciting opportunity. Currently, industrial-zoned land in Auckland is selling for around $700/sqm while the land around Mill Rd is selling from $100-120/sqm.
This cost difference is garnering significant out-of-town interest and we expect this development will draw major employment and economic opportunities to Castlecliff.
Finally, developing the port is central to Whanganui's future and to lifting Castlecliff up. A thriving port will attract businesses and employment to Castlecliff and increased recreational opportunities will give people more reason to visit.
I'm excited to see that funds have been committed to the project and look forward to seeing progress in that area.
There is real, untapped economic value in Castlecliff and if we don't create opportunities for growth, our region is leaving money on the table.
The passion, ability and drive to grow the suburb is already evident in its residents and businesses; it is critical that we create the space and opportunity for them to do achieve their vision.
Whanganui & Partners supports projects that benefit Castlecliff and we will continue to look for opportunities to support the suburb as it grows.
Mark Ward is chief executive of Whanganui & Partners.