Plan to revitalise city centre

An intense debate is expected at the Dunedin City Council tomorrow about George St and traffic....
An intense debate is expected at the Dunedin City Council tomorrow about George St and traffic. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
A makeover of Dunedin’s main shopping street is not the only crucial element in creating a compelling destination, a draft report for the city council states.

Others include encouraging building owners to invest in upgrades, making use of technology, marketing, fostering a mix of retail outlets and developing a dynamic arts presence.

A draft revitalisation plan for the George St area has been presented to Dunedin city councillors at the same time as they are weighing up if they should pursue an upgrade of the main street that would give it a pedestrian focus and, potentially, one-way traffic.

An intense debate is expected at the Dunedin City Council tomorrow about George St and traffic.

It is poised to be a prelude to broader discussion about the future of the retail destination.

"There is a strong recognition that significant improvements are required in the central city to protect its position as the pre-eminent retail area in Dunedin," the draft plan says.

"A high-quality public realm is one ingredient in creating a compelling destination."

The council did not have sole responsibility for creating a memorable and distinctive experience in the area, it was argued.

Building owners, developers and businesses were important partners in creating an engaging environment, council staff said.

Ideas included starting a business association for the area and employing a marketing and events co-ordinator.

Among the challenges listed for the George St commercial quarter were growth of online shopping, the cost of building upgrades and a limited range of shop sizes.

The area had "limited amounts of public space and areas to rest, along with the uninspiring nature of existing public areas, with limited public art and a lack of innovative design".

Leased parking could "lock up" significant numbers of parking spaces that might otherwise be used more flexibly by a greater number of visitors.

Opportunities identified included using technology to maximise parking availability and to make public transport more convenient.

More central city apartments could provide a growing resident population for businesses and boost the night-time economy.

"There need to be opportunities for people to enjoy the space and social interaction even if they do not have large amounts of money to spend," the document says.

"While retail should be the predominant activity ... other activities and attractions can bring people into the area and make it easier or more attractive to spend time there."

Lack of mana whenua representation was identified as a prominent cultural gap.

Victorian and Edwardian architecture contributed to the area’s identity.

"This could be strengthened further, particularly by expanding recognition of the area’s history and culture beyond its relatively narrow focus to embrace a broader range of Dunedin’s diverse communities and ensure they see their heritage reflected in the area."


A dynamic arts presence - you mean something like a national sports museum?

Why are Council staff suggesting the business people need to make a whole lot of changes when the CBD is working perfectly well the way it is? The only feasible reason is they cannot resist the temptation to use taxpayers money to pay for 51% of the costs and ratepayers payment of 49% for the rest. If they were asked to make a business case for this project they would fail miserably because all it will turn out to be is an exercise in extravagance. The only way that the CBD of Dunedin will ever fail is if the Council allows developers to build shopping malls in the suburbs such as has happened in Tauranga which has a similar population to Dunedin. Then Dunedin's CBD will look like Tauranga's CBD and that is not a pretty sight!