Nelson mayor Rachel Reese says council will be setting a focus on housing, transport and the riverside precinct this term. Photo: Kate Russell.

Mayor sets top priorities for term

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As a new look Nelson City Council settles into their first year, Kate Russell sat down with Mayor Rachel Reese to find out how they are coming together and the top three priorities she will be driving for the next three years.

A unified council:

“The new council is going really well. There’s lots of energy, everyone’s positive, keen to get on with things and taking on responsibilities. We got together very soon after the election and talked about what was key to us as a council. Obviously, climate change remains a big issue and we’ve always got our four pillars around environment, infrastructure, city development and lifting council performance.”

Affordable housing choice:

“One of the things that has been a real priority for some time in Nelson is affordable housing choice. We want to work on an intensification plan, looking where we can get more townhouse and apartment developments, and making sure we’re supporting that. We’ve got some incentives around supporting intensification and we’ve got the full Nelson Plan that we’ve been working on for several years now and that has a real focus on affordable housing. We’re getting rid of a lot of the red tape and making sure we’ve got choice within that.

“I’ve already had some very constructive meetings with government representatives, MSD and others in the city, and we’re working collectively on our approach to affordable housing choice in Nelson and there are some exciting opportunities coming forward. We’re looking at where we go next when we work through the rest of our community housing project, what happens from that and our intentions to develop a housing reserve.”

Modal shift:

“We really want to think about how people move around in the city. The uptake of e-bikes has been phenomenal in the city and we’ve always had a great uptake on cycling, so we want to make sure we’re building on that. We’ve got a big public transport review that will roll out this year and we go onto electronic bus ticketing in May or June. That will see some adjustment to the fares as well, which we’re hoping will attract more people to giving the bus a go. We’re continuing with our cycleway development and we’ll be advocating strongly to NZTA for investment in our cycle network. The future access study will go through its next stages and we’ll have some options out to the community.”

Riverside precinct:

“We want to continue the development we did with the Maitai Walkway but really turn the buildings around so we’re embracing the river and creating great public spaces all the way through as we come to the connection with Trafalgar St. The Elma Turner Library is well and truly ready for development.”