Octagon trial closure to begin next week

Entertainment and food trucks are adding some vibrancy to the already sublime day. Photo: Tim Miller
Entertainment and food trucks are added some vibrancy to the already sublime day before the Ed Sheeran concert in 2018. Photo: Tim Miller

Dunedin is gearing up to shut down the heart of the city to vehicles as a series of major events loom.

From Monday, the Octagon and surrounding streets will be closed to most vehicles most of the time, to transform the area into a more pedestrian-friendly zone for more than a month.

The trial, costing $150,000, would be known as the ‘‘Octagon Experience’’, and would be similar to the trial closure used to cater for the thousands of Ed Sheeran fans who descended on the central city in 2018.

This time, the Octagon and surrounding streets will be closed at different times, timed to coincide with the NZ Masters Games, concerts by Elton John and Queen, the annual Thieves’ Alley Market Day and the Otago/Southland Pipe Band competition.

DCC principal urban designer Kathryn Ward said the trial was ‘‘not simply about closing streets to traffic’’.

‘‘It is about creating a public space that has an integrated streetscape with surrounding businesses and points of interest.”

The trial would include the addition of new furniture and trees in planter boxes, as well as poetry displays, footpath decorations and other ‘‘place-making’’ elements, to create an area ‘‘that is vibrant and engaging’’, she said.

‘‘The overall effect is creating a space that is visually appealing and helps create an atmosphere that draws people together, both residents and visitors alike.’’

The University of Otago Schools of Entrepreneurship and Sustainability will be collecting data monitoring the trial, in collaboration with local businesses and public surveys.

Comments

I'm looking forward to experiencing our city without the noise fumes and safety worry of traffic. Lets see how it all goes by the end of the trial, we might be surprised.

Buzz have you ever heard / read that often trial reports are often started at the end result and the middle and beginning is tailored to reflect the end of the report and wanted outcome.

I was in the Octagon on Saturday night to go to the cinema.

It was dead. Just a spattering of gaudy AstroTurf furniture that looked like it had been made by a colorblind student co-op, and some blown over light metal chairs (half of which, I am told, have already been nicked).

I chatted briefly with a lady in a walking frame who'd come looking for a taxi, only to find...well, nothing much really. She asked me if I knew where the taxis were now? I didn't know. She hobbled off down the empty street. It was like a scene from a bad movie.

The whole thing looked like an outdoors version of one of America's "Dead Malls" - where all the businesses have failed and only a chain store sandwich bar can still make coin.

If the goal of the DCC is to kill off thriving businesses and turn Dunedin into a ghost town, they're going the right way about it.