Council endorses work on George St plans to date

One image of the proposed changes to George St. Supplied
One image of the proposed changes to George St. Supplied
George St work got the green light yesterday and remains on track to begin in April next year.

David Benson-Pope
David Benson-Pope

But a soon-to-be formed downtown advisory group will inform the future design work and the business case for the work that lies ahead for the Dunedin City Council as it replaces ageing underground infrastructure and re-imagines the streetscape when it reforms the street.

Cr David Benson-Pope said a similar infrastructure upgrade and urbanisation of George St in the 1990s was — like the current process — said to have the potential to "destroy" the city centre, but it had not.

As some argued for a "pause" while the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and retail shutdown were understood, and despite vocal fears from retailers at the new proposal to tilt the balance in Dunedin’s city-centre retail area to 75% bicycles, pedestrians and public spaces, and only 25% cars and trucks, Cr Benson-Pope said it was time for councillors to "bite the bullet on this" and shore up the city-centre as a focal point.

"There will be major changes as a result of what we’re going through now, but this city had always been resilient," Cr Benson-Pope said.

"The key part of this is we have the opportunity to stay ahead of the game."

He mooted the reconstitution of the Central City Advisory Group "to provide feedback" as the plans to take cars off George St take shape — and argued successfully for the proposed make-up of the group and its terms of reference to come to councillors for approval on June 8.

While council principal urban designer Kathryn Ward and chief executive Sue Bidrose defended the consultation to date — noting the project drew 1198 submissions in April last year — a perceived lack of consultation dominated yesterday’s debate on the George St project.

Before the debate, councillors had the chance to question three consultants who helped prepare a raft of reports used to bolster council staff’s plans for the revamp and in the public forum, three speakers addressed the concept — Dunedin property developer and owner Tony Clear said public spaces were in fact "the new anchor tenants" for retail areas, while First Retail managing director Chris Wilkinson said at present the trend in city-centre shopping areas was a shift from retail spending to spending in restaurants, cafes and the like.

The council voted 10-4 to endorse the council staff work to date, with Crs Carmen Houlahan, Jules Radich, Lee Vandervis, and Andrew Whiley voting against Cr Benson-Pope’s motion. Cr Mike Lord was absent for the vote.

 

Comments

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Great work! But let’s make the block St Andrew and Hanover Street fully pedestrianised. You still can’t relax with kids knowing there is a one way system of cars going through.

Maybe DCC should focus on attracting domestic tourists to the city revitalising Dunedin Railway, Dunedin Airport, Larnach Castle and our many other attractions rather than upgrading the main street at this time. May save jobs in retail, accommodation and hospitality with increased visitors to the city.

40+ years ago, Chch removed vehicle traffic from Cathedral Square. The subsequent sorry history of that space should be a salutary reminder to Dunedin.

"urbanisation of George St in the 1990s was — like the current process "
RUBBISH.
Map out all the changes in the surrounding streets over the last 30 years and you can see why THIS plan will STRANGLE the CBD
Add the new hospital plans and you have certainty, NOT just a possibility, dividing the city into two halves.
"Cr Benson-Pope said it was time for councillors to "bite the bullet on this""
In other words... Yes, the water is dark.... ignore the warnings ... jump in ... be brave .... trust me ... we did it in the 90's .... nothing has changed since then.
"There will be major changes as a result of what we’re going through now, but this city had always been resilient," Cr Benson-Pope said.
Yes, after 70 years of decline while the rest of the country grew, we are still here. Others have suffered and moved on but we are still here. Have a look at the cities demographic. It's OUR children that have moved on !!
"we have the opportunity to stay ahead of the game." Our life is not a game !!
"consultants who helped prepare a raft of reports used to bolster council staff’s plans"
Just as they did with the 2GP which was useless before the ink dried.
ARROGANCE. PURE ARROGANCE.

"Chris Wilkinson said at present the trend in city-centre shopping areas was a shift from retail spending to spending in restaurants, cafes and the like."
Oh, great... NOT !!!
So his vision is a street full of restaurants and cafes.
Nice, if you have the money to live that life style.
That is not the reality for most Dunedinits.
Business has been declining in the south because it's TOO HARD.
It's TOO HARD because of over regulation caused by a disconnect between the cities elites and those that need to get things done.
Chris Wilkinson has exposed himself as one of those elites.

The council need to remember they are part of a larger representative democracy and must to listen to the will of the people. The arrogance on display, in the face of overwhelming opposition, is shocking.

Remember that the next council elections are a bit over two years away -- don't forget what is happening now, and don't forget to vote.

In particular I have contempt for Cr Benson-Pope -- has there ever been a more arrogant politician?

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