All eyes on re­design

Kapi-Mana News - - OPINION -

Af­ter the re­lease of a strate­gic frame­work last week, the re­vi­tal­i­sa­tion plan for Porirua City has fi­nally be­come tan­gi­ble.

The new set of pri­or­i­ties and timetable for de­vel­op­ment laid down by the sub­com­mit­tee pro­vides di­rec­tion and scope to the long-ges­tat­ing pro­ject that is both prag­matic and pur­pose­ful.

Given the years of, at least per­ceived, in­ac­tion, the im­me­di­ate talk­ing point is the first stage of phys­i­cal re­design: the stream­side plaza and park, im­proved pedes­trian con­nec­tions from the train sta­tion to city cen­tre; and en­cour­ag­ing eater­ies to pop­u­late this new district.

More im­por­tant though are the ide­o­log­i­cal shifts in the frame­work’s pri­or­i­ties.

Porirua City Coun­cil will no longer wait for pri­vate in­vestors to come to the party – it will in­stead im­ple­ment de­sign changes to build­ings and spa­ces it ei­ther owns or has in­vest­ment from will­ing part­ners.

This es­sen­tially kicks to touch the much­ma­ligned Canopies shop­ping area, the pre­vi­ous fo­cus of most re­vi­tal­i­sa­tion plans and de­bates.

Build­ings un­der the Canopies are in des­per­ate need of in­vest­ment from land­lords and qual­ity re­tail ten­ants, and, de­spite at­tract­ing its share of beg­gars, bad buskers, tru­ants and va­grants, it re­mains the city’s heart in terms of foot traf­fic (by lo­cals) and so­cial en­gage­ment.

I’ve al­ways felt the injection of vi­tal­ity, de­cent shop­ping and some God-damn sun­light to this part of town was in­te­gral to any CBD facelift, and per­haps it still is.

But it felt like a weight had been lifted to learn Ferry Place and Lyt­tel­ton Av­enue would be the ini­tial epi-cen­tre of im­prove­ments.

It makes sense. Why start a 30-year master plan by con­fronting the most chal­leng­ing ob­sta­cle, one loaded with a decade’s worth of neg­a­tive bag­gage? Ferry Place is a clean slate and, as Coun­cil­lor Ken Dou­glas said upon the frame­work’s re­lease, the plaza con­cept is com­mer­cially re­al­is­tic and can be achieved within bud­get.

Of course, the devil will be in the de­tails. For now, we are be­ing sold a ‘‘bustling’’ stream­side plaza, per­ma­nent and mo­bile food out­lets, and strong pedes­trian ac­cess to key ar­eas of the city, like the North City mall.

Take out the stream and I wouldn’t be sur­prised if Cob­ham Court was sold in a sim­i­lar way when the Canopies went up.

Matthew Dallas, Edi­tor.

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