Sights like this around the city could soon be a thing of the past with an initiative to bring empty shops to life. Photo: Sara Hollyman.

Plans to fill vacant CBD spaces


Vacant city centre buildings could soon be filled if a new Nelson City Council initiative gets off the ground.

Through its 2019/20 annual plan, council are proposing to launch ‘Meanwhile Spaces’ – a concept of using temporarily vacant buildings to house arts organisations, start-ups, community organisations and charities.

An additional $50,000 is proposed as part of the delivery of this project, which could kick off this winter.

Clare Barton, manager environmental management at council, says they have undertaken research into how the city can be “enhanced and rejuvenated” and took the idea from similar project which has been successful in Australia.

She says they are in the process of establishing an incorporated society called ‘Make/Shift Spaces Incorporated’ which will focus on activating shops and buildings in the city centre with creative projects and enterprises on a temporary basis.

“In the past, shop vacancies in Nelson’s city centre have been a concern to the public and businesses,” says Clare.

“Council has committed to provide seed funding to establish the incorporated society and to get Meanwhile Spaces started. There is external interest with sponsorship, grants and other funding sources to complement – and eventually replace – the public funding commitment.”

She says they have had support from property owners, landlords, legal, real estate, charities and arts sectors.

The temporary occupants will be selected from those who respond to an open request for proposals and once a space is secured, projects/operators will be matched to that space.

It is intended that there will be a 30-day notice period on licenses so the landlord can lease their space.