Whanganui gets green light for funding to improve city streets

Published on September 06, 2022

Lesley Stead from Paige's Book Gallery

Lesley Stead outside Paige's Book Gallery on Guyton Street

Whanganui District Council's town centre regeneration team has successfully secured $1.26 million from Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency to create more vibrant better-connected streetscapes in two key areas of our city centre along Guyton Street and lower St Hill Street.

The funding, announced today, is from Waka Kotahi's new Streets for People programme and will enable the council to work directly with the community to design a range of improvements that support better transport connections, enhance safety for pedestrians and cyclists, and make the streets more attractive for shoppers, residents and businesses.

The announcement was especially pleasing for Lesley Stead from Paige's Book Gallery, who heads Guyton Group Trust – an organisation that has long advocated for improvements on Guyton Street.

"This is spectacular news. For many years now, our Trust has asked for our road safety issues to be addressed – and for our street’s creative potential to be unlocked.

"We're really looking forward to working as a community to help create a safer, more beautiful street that both locals and visitors to our city can be proud of.” 

The council’s group manager regulatory and planning, Jason Shailer, says the funding for both projects is a special opportunity for Whanganui, as it means we'll be able to carry out key improvements in our town centre using funding that's primarily from central government, rather than ratepayers.

He says the lower St Hill Street funding means we can develop an active transport hub opposite Countdown, to support the high frequency bus trial which is being rolled out in Whanganui in 2023.

“The hub will allow us to create an attractive streetscape around all-weather bus shelters to bring some fresh energy to the experience of catching the bus, as well as improving the area for cyclists and pedestrians.”

He says the Guyton Street funding will give us the opportunity to make Guyton Street a safer, more vibrant destination, and improve pedestrian connections to link Guyton Street to the rest of the central business district.

“Our goal is to work directly with residents, building owners and businesses in our town centre – as well as Iwi and community partners from across Whanganui – to design streetscapes that reflect Whanganui’s identity, improve safety and help create better connections across our town centre.”

Jason Shailer says the funding is for projects that are semi-permanent yet high quality – meaning that they will be robust and visually attractive but can also be removed in future if necessary.

“This will enable the council, key stakeholders on the streets, and the community as a whole, to assess the effectiveness of the changes – and then make a decision together as to whether we want to make them permanent.”

Waka Kotahi’s urban mobility manager, Kathryn King, says she is very excited Whanganui District Council is on board to participate in Streets for People 2021-24 and the programme “will help us move towards a healthier and safer future for us all, by putting people and place at the heart of our streets.”

For members of the community who are keen to get involved in the project, the town centre regeneration team will be announcing dates for initial co-design workshops shortly.

For more information and regular project updates, follow the town centre regeneration or Whanganui District Council Facebook pages or email ellen.young@whanganui.govt.nz