A proposal to inject life into Nelson’s Church St has been given the thumbs up from Nelson City Council, and could see the street transform into a vibrant outdoor dining hub.
Church St business owners and landowners have approached council with a view of working together to improve the inner city lane, which is home to Kush Coffee, East St Cafe and Nicola’s Cantina.
Initial concept plans, which have been developed by Church St architect Tony Karston, feature outdoor dining areas bordered by planters, as well as paving, street light upgrades, bicycle parking and footpath widening.
A vision for hanging sculpture that could be changed every few years with a sculpture competition, and a street festival, have also been proposed by the business owners.
Although construction isn’t likely until 2017/18, on-street dining could be trialled this summer, thanks to the council revoking restrictions so as to allow eateries to apply for licences to use public car parking spaces for outdoor dining in the CBD.
Andy Budd, owner of Kush Coffee, says the idea has been “on their agenda” for a while.
The popular coffee spot already has a small outdoor dining space, but Andy says he would like the street to become more “pedestrian-friendly”.
“In Europe you see streets where half a dozen cafes work together, and you can order from any of them with one outdoor area where people can sit and relax,” he says. “We think it would be a great addition to the city.”
The concept proposes a more contemporary design aesthetic to that of Trafalgar St, using corten steel planters rather than Victorian styled bollards and chains to separate the outdoor dining from the roadway.
Councillors at Thursday’s Works and Infrastructure Committee meeting unanimously agreed to move forward with the project, with committee chair, councillor Eric Davy saying he was “very keen” on the design.
“I think it’s a great use of this area. The sooner it happens, the better,” he said.
Councillor Matt Lawrey said “it would be a really good thing for the city” and be “complementary to the area”.
Uniquely Nelson is also behind the development, with manager Simon Duffy telling Nelson Weekly that they “all for” improvements in Church St, but he would like to see signage in place which directed foot traffic to the Rutherford Hotel to Trafalgar St as well.
Council will move forward with stakeholder engagement and design development in 2016/17 at a cost of $75,000, with the rough cost estimate of the entire upgrade estimated to be $400,000 to $500,000 which would be funded through the council’s CBD Enhancement programme.
It has been proposed that Church St business owners would fund the planters and outdoor furniture.