CBD design critical to future success
14 January 2013
By RDC Business Partnerships Manager Nick Dallimore
Rotorua District Council regularly receives positive feedback on the Eat Streat precinct project towards the bottom of Tutanekai Street. This has been a very positive trial of public and private partnership in developing a precinct within the CBD in unison with the business and building owners of the block.
Like the development of the Rotorua Night Market, with the Heart of Tutanekai Street representatives, we believe that the future of the CBD lies with continuing to develop these private/public partnership precincts of like-activities, providing strong themes within the CBD where businesses can work in cooperation - strengthening their destination as a group but still competing for their individual customers.
The design elements of the CBD are critical to the future success, providing the right environment to attract and retain people within it. The careful balancing of parking, vehicle access, pedestrian space and areas of interest is of the utmost importance to provide the right level of activity and vibrancy. It is important to provide environments that people will enjoy being within, however it is equally important to not design a space so large that it appears empty.
The Footpath Trading Zone Policy (adopted by Council last year) is another mechanism that allows for businesses to legitimately utilise the large footpath areas within the CBD. This helps to activate the street area, again adding vibrancy and a sense of activity.
The council is currently finalising installation of way finding signage through out the CBD to not only give people a sense of where they are in relationship to key features around the CBD, but to also tell the important stories of our street names and other historical information about our city.
At the same time, in conjunction with a local Rotorua business, we are implementing free Rotorua WiFi within the public spaces of the CBD, helping to attract people into and around the CBD, whilst providing a platform for providing information to our visitors and locals.
Design work is being completed on the Tutanekai Street intersections to provide better pedestrian connection across the large east/west streets that dissect the street including enhancement of the planting and environmental look of Tutanekai Street. This will enhance the pedestrian perception and capability to walk along Tutanekai Street, defining the street as our ‘high street’ for the future and strengthening pedestrian activity and business focus along this spine from Rotorua Central down to the Lakefront. Rotorua is an attractive city and we aim to continue to build on this strength.
Finally, Eat Streat is now nearing the completion of detail design work for the construction of a permanent pedestrian/alfresco dinning precinct (construction is aimed to be completed later this year). This will enhance what we have learnt from the trial over the last 3 years and provide the capability of alfresco dining and other business operations 365 days of the year in a protected environment. The design, and indeed the trial, was always carried out with the potential to extend the concept, depending on its success and the businesses willingness, back towards Arawa Street, something that I am sure will be a positive discussion point in the future with the business owners in this precinct.
RDC Business Partnerships Manager