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Plans for future of Ōamaru town centre making progress

Waitaki App

Ashley Smyth

25 March 2024, 10:43 PM

Plans for future of Ōamaru town centre making progressKelvin Cunningham discusses ideas and themes for Ōamaru's central business district at recent workshop. Photo: supplied

Moves to revitalise Ōamaru’s CBD are about “community and council working together to design and deliver the future”, Waitaki District Council business attraction manager Mel Jones says.

The second meeting of the central business district revitalisation workshop was held at the Ōamaru Opera House earlier this month, with 35 representatives from local businesses and organisations working together with the council to come up with a plan through “strategic doing”.

The purpose of strategic doing is to find solutions to complex challenges and carry them out through collaboration and networking. At the last workshop five projects were identified to move forward on.

Numat graphic design director Kelvin Cunningham, who has been in the workshops, thinks the strategic doing approach is “a great way to embrace the process of public and community networks and engagement, with the action needed to move faster toward achieving a desired outcome”.

“All projects are a win in the face of the necessity to revitalise the CBD,” he says.

The projects all address a way to develop spaces and activities that will encourage interaction and interest in the town.

“These projects highlight and showcase our unique history, beauty and stories that would be otherwise unknown to some and the visitors to come. More engagement, more people, more business.”

Having a variety of voices in one room for the workshops is a great start to bettering the CBD, he says.

“We hope this will further encourage community engagement to continue to develop and build upon the momentum to make this town such an interesting place to go and spend time.

Mel says revitalising the CBD to ensure it is a thriving centre of the Waitaki that is attractive for residents, visitors and businesses, is something the council is committed to.

“The approach we are taking is to engage a selection of businesses and other organisations in co-designing what changes we make.”

BuggyRobot creator Martin Horspool said being part of the process is “very exciting”.

“It’s great to see what other people's ideas are. It’s great to see the focus on the historical and some of the unloved and underappreciated areas of the CBD.”

Ōamaru Whitestone Civic Trust trustee David Wilson says the plan has great potential. 

“This is such a fantastic town to work with, and the ideas that have come out are going to build on and enhance a lot of the activity that’s been going on for a number of years.”

Project teams are now working on refining their plans ahead of presenting them to the public.