Decision-makers have done a U-turn regarding the future of two food trucks in central Whanganui.
The owners of Bula Bure and Thai Food were contacted by Whanganui District Council in early February, notifying them their licences for a street stall on a public place had been cancelled and they needed to vacate Majestic Square by March 31.
The two food trucks have been there for the past six months and the owners have questioned why they are now required to move.
Since the council's letter was issued, the council, Mainstreet Whanganui and economic development agency Whanganui & Partners have been discussing the future of the food trucks.
Mainstreet Whanganui general manager Des Warahi said they are looking to find the trucks a new home in Majestic Square.
"Mainstreet will be working with the two street stalls to identify suitable locations within Majestic Square."
The council's regulatory and planning group manager, Hamish Lampp, said there are all sorts of requirements for food trucks to operate.
"There are environmental health, resource management, road safety and property licensing requirements that may apply to food trucks and street stalls, depending on the location.
"Additional requirements from other agencies may also apply, again depending on location.
"Food truck operators can set up in a commercially zoned area, but they must not impede traffic or cause a safety issue. They can go to an event with permission from the land owner and an invitation from the event organiser. To set up on a state highway they need permission from Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency."
Food trucks on residential zoned land and on council land must also meet those requirements, Lampp said.
Whanganui district councillor Rob Vinsen said street traders have always been a hot topic among CBD businesses.
Vinsen, who was chairman of the inaugural Majestic Square Project Control Group and the inaugural Mainstreet Whanganui Business Division, said Majestic Square is a special space and should be treated as such.
"Bruce Dickson's design created the much-loved vista from Cooks Gardens to the Sarjeant Gallery, and the terraced effect reflected the Memorial Steps. It shocks and disappoints me that Bruce's vision is being diluted. Some even want trees removed. That would be sacrilege in my opinion.
"Majestic Square was designed to be a tranquil green space in the centre of the CBD. It was not designed to place more than a minimal numbers of traders in the space. Those that gain the privilege of trading there need to meet high standards of stall design that fit with the character of the Square."
There are 17 other sites to choose from in the CBD, but neighbouring businesses would have to agree to food trucks being there. Vinsen said he believes that is an entirely fair arrangement.
"One that I think would add to the ambience of Whanganui is outside the old Andersons store in the bottom block. There are no other close operators and it would tidy up an area that is getting derelict now.
"Retailers pay high rates and high rentals, and their views need to be listened to."
Whanganui & Partners chief executive Hannah Middleton said the agency has been working with the vendors affected by location changes at Majestic Square to provide business support and continuity.
"As our local economy continues to grow we will support new and existing food cart operators to ensure they are in the right space to meet demand, and are complementary to our current hospitality providers," Middleton said.
"We support food cart operators in the contribution they make to our city's vibrancy and growth."
Ashleigh Dari from Bula Bure said she was happy to hear the news after being left in the dark for the past few weeks.
"We met with Whanganui & Partners [Thursday] and they told us we aren't moving. It is good news."
Whilst the situation is still unclear where they could end up, they've been told they will be near the water feature.
When she asked what will happen to the Thai Food cart, Dari said she was told they would be moving into the spot vacated by Bula Bure.
"If we have to move to keep the path clear, that's fine. If they are allowed to go there, that's a problem to us. The only reason we agreed to move is because we thought we would all be moving."
Thai Food's owner has also been contacted for comment.