Alan Gray was appointed as Nelson City Council’s city-centre programme development lead last year. Photo: Kate Russell.

CBD enhancement budget ‘overly ambitious’

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The Nelson City Council has failed to spend a $200,000 budget set aside for CBD enhancement, but say it was perhaps “overly ambitious” to think they would do so in the project’s first year.

The council was given the capital expenditure budget as part of the 2018/19 financial year to allow them to purchase assets for the CBD.

Team leader city development Lisa Gibbelini says that the budget does not roll over but there is allocation for the current financial year to continue with the work.

She says it might have been “overly ambitious” to spend on assets, considering council only appointed a new city centre development lead, in the form of Alan Gray, eight months ago.

“We have a budget for one year, if you don’t manage to spend it, it doesn’t roll over, but we have a budget for every year,” Lisa says.

She says they might struggle to spend this year’s capital expenditure budget as well, although the closure of Upper Trafalgar St may use some.

“We can’t just go out and spend money willy nilly – there needs to be a plan in place.”

Alan Gray was appointed as the city-centre programme development lead in December last year.

He stresses that there has been a lot going on since he began his role but says a lot of it does not require capital expenditure.

“I want to fly in high and get the strategy right then think ‘ok, we agree to this, let’s get in there and find out what that means’.

He says that things that his team has been working on include:

  • Bringing lime scooters or something similar into the region.
  • Parking – including relaxing the number of carparks required for city-fringe developments.
  • City centre forum with retailers and landlords.
  • Makeshift Spaces – using the frontage of empty retail spaces for art installations.
  • Launched a Public Life Survey to monitor and observe the type of activities that are happening in the city; who’s busking, who’s laying out in the sun, who’s eating, how many kids are out, what are the gender mixes and the age groups.
  • Four Lanes Festival
  • Closing of Upper Trafalgar St

Flagtrax – the new permanent flagpoles around the city. Some have LED lights that the teams are looking to extend throughout the CBD.

  • Developing the City Centre Programme Plan which council is looking to adopt tomorrow.
  • Looking at how to make the CBD a more liveable centre – according to the 2013 Census only 75 people live within a 500m radius of the city centre.

“We’re already starting to find the city’s changing; there’s a real different attitude from the time I started to now,” says Alan.

“Some of this is about getting the wheel in the right direction so once we are digging in the ground and spending a lot of money to do physical works that it’s going in the right direction.

“It takes a little bit of time but it’s one of these things you just have to wait a little bit. We’re getting some momentum; I’m encouraged.”