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Council customer and regulatory services group manager Adrian Blair said the work, to be carried out over the next two months, aimed to make better use of space and improve accessibility.
The new design would include a shorter customer service counter, lowered at one end, and new customer meeting booths and service desks, lighting, painting and signage.
The upgrade would begin today and be carried out over two stages, at night to reduce disruption, meaning the reception area would remain open during the day, he said.
The first stage - involving building work - would cost $85,000, while the cost of subsequent lighting, painting and signage was yet to be confirmed, he said.
The reception area was used by 100,000 people each year, for everything from dog registrations to resource consent applications, and a simplified, accessible layout was important.