Lower Victoria Avenue's time to shine

Published on 25 September 2020

Heritage Vic Ave.jpg

Whanganui has once again succeeded in securing central government funding to design a vibrant space in the town centre where people can interact with each other and local businesses – this time the area to be enhanced is lower Victoria Avenue.

This is Whanganui’s second successful application to Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency’s Innovating Streets fund. The first was for a Drews Avenue upgrade, which is currently in the community co-design phase.

The fund – which covers 90% of project costs – gives councils the chance to trial semi-permanent upgrades to create more vibrant and people-friendly cities.

Town Centre Regeneration Project Manager, Ellen Young, says she’s thrilled to have secured central government funding for a second project.

“We’re looking forward to co-designing a space that suits the people who live and work in lower Victoria Avenue and has the flow-on effect of giving our whole central business district a boost in the wake of COVID-19.

“Lower Victoria Avenue is the gateway to the central business district and so we have a huge opportunity to transform our town centre to create a stunning first impression for visitors arriving across the bridge from out of town.

“As Whanganui’s primary dining and nightlife location, lower Victoria Avenue is the ideal place for a hospitality and entertainment zone that both visitors and locals can enjoy.”

Ellen Young says the first meeting has already been held with local Victoria Avenue stakeholders and “the feedback was hugely positive, with businesses really appreciative of us going to them early in the process.”

She says there’s a range of ways to create an inviting atmosphere and signal to passers-by that they’re entering a special area of town.

“As well as installing seating this might include adding greenery, painting a large-scale artwork on the road – providing a nice link from the Whanganui River to the main street – or adding hanging artwork or festoon lighting to create a spectacular ceiling to enclose the outdoor area.”

Ellen Young says installing seating and revitalising the pedestrian routes between the adjacent Drews Avenue precinct and the lower Victoria Avenue zone will encourage people to come into the area on foot.

“The identity of Drews Avenue is very different from the identity of lower Victoria Avenue – our vision is to create two complementary spaces that interrelate and support each other.”

The project will be completed by June 2021 and from there data will be collected to evaluate the effect of the changes and the design will be reviewed and modified where needed.