Council goes with Exchange revamp

The Dunedin City Council is to press ahead with a $1.1 million plan to revamp Exchange Square and create new car-free zones in the Warehouse Precinct.

Councillors at yesterday's full council meeting voted to approve both projects for public consultation over the next few months, which could be followed by construction later this year.

Plans for the Exchange envisaged a $602,000 revamp, paid for from existing budgets and including a new layout, new grey-blue concrete pavings, furniture, plantings and LED lighting.

Nearby, the council was also proposing to redevelop two one-way sections of Jetty St, below the Cumberland St overbridge, into pedestrian-only spaces.

The exact cost of the change was not yet known, but it would be close to consuming the $500,000 set aside for further Warehouse Precinct improvements in the 2015-16 budget, staff indicated yesterday.

Both projects won support at yesterday's meeting, despite Cr Lee Vandervis arguing the money earmarked for the Exchange improvements could better be used to repay debt.

Cr Aaron Hawkins said the $37.1 million Central City Plan - of which the Exchange upgrade formed one part - was ''genuinely exciting for the city'', but much of the physical work was not scheduled to begin until 2018.

Bringing forward the Exchange improvements would help maintain momentum and excitment for the wider plan, he said.

Cr Richard Thomson also backed the Exchange improvement plan, arguing the council needed to keep investing in its city to avoid urban decay.

That was something the area had flirted with, only to be rescued by regeneration in recent years.

''We can't just say we're not going to do that for the next 20 or 30 years,'' he said.

Cr Jinty MacTavish agreed, saying the Exchange improvement plan was an example of a ''small, targeted'' intervention that could help lift the city.

Cr David Benson-Pope said the $602,000 price tag suggested wasn't ''a big deal'', and he was confident most people would support the work.

''Most Dunedin residents want to see the city maintained and enhanced.''

Councillors also threw their support behind the proposed change to Jetty St, where it intersected with Vogel St between Cumberland and Crawford Sts.

Cr Andrew Noone said there had been a ''noticeable'' increase in people visiting the area, and pedestrian-only zones ''would certainly help enhance that''.

Cr Vandervis agreed, but said the council's real success in the Warehouse Precinct had been to ''get out of the way'' of private developers.

Pedestrianising parts of Jetty St would remove a ''stumbling block'' to development in the area, but the council should give more consideration to car parking in the area, he believed.

Submissions on the Jetty St changes will run from June 1-26, followed by a hearing in July, while public consultation on the Exchange Square is pencilled in for later this year.

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