2 March – CBD key to growth

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There’s an increasing vibrancy in Whanganui. I believe it’s due to growing population, jobs, retail spend, house sales and incredible summer events, and after two years’ pushing growth initiatives at Council, it’s a rewarding result.
Through the Town Centre Regeneration Study, Cr Martin Visser and myself have come to appreciate the importance of a vibrant town centre in securing the district’s future.
People are attracted to move to and visit a dynamic and beautiful town centre, making it easier to attract businesses, employees and their families, students, retirees and visitors. All our businesses, retailers and landlords by default do better, and investment in restoring our heritage buildings gets that much easier. It’s a win/win for everyone.
The study encapsulates excellent ideas and we’re keen to begin some simple initiatives immediately, whilst some objectives will take much longer.
I’ve been working with Doreen Hardy, Chair of Mainstreet Whanganui, in championing the Collective Whanganui project just announced – to fill empty shops with creative enterprises. Thank you, Doreen – your enthusiasm and capability were essential in getting this off the ground. Full windows create energy, draw people to town and eventually attract more permanent retail – a simple, effective and quick initiative. Google “Renew Newcastle” for more information.
A review of parking arrangements; adjusting Council rates charged to retailers; filling gaps in our retail offering by directly inviting them; saving heritage frontages and a simple facelift to our streetscape, are further achievable and affordable initiatives on our immediate hit list. Discussions are already underway at various Council levels.

A big thank you to senior planner Jonathan Barrett who championed the study and continues the drive to enhance and save our unique town centre.
I’m very excited about our future and thank you to everyone in the community doing their bit via events and business to support the district, including those who continue to support our retail and commercial sector by buying local.
For enquiries about Collective Whanganui, contact Doreen Hardy at Mainstreet Wanganui.