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Town centre urban design plan underway


Wairoa’s rich and unique heritage will be recognised in the Te Wairoa E Whanake - Rise up and Grow urban design plan.

Last week WSP designers met with Vision Projects and Wairoa District Council staff to initiate the urban design component of Te Wairoa E Whanake.

In January Wairoa received a $4.8 million-dollar Provincial Growth Fund investment to transform Wairoa’s main street into a thriving town centre delivering retail, employment and educational services.

Last week’s meeting was focussed on developing an urban design plan that builds on the town’s assets and complements the other elements of Te Wairoa E Whanake which will include an Integrated Business Facility built on the main street burnt-out buildings site, the relocation of the i-Site and further development of the former Winter’s building and the development of a Wairoa River Regional Park.

All projects will be underpinned by the urban design which will enhance the entire CBD and generate positive economic, cultural, social and environmental wellbeing.

The design will acknowledge Wairoa’s history and also embrace the future, while combining feedback from the recent Te Wairoa E Whanake ‘Gathering your Thoughts’ survey which drew more than 250 responses.

WSP urban designer and planner Nick Aiken said Wairoa’s rich and unique heritage provides an incredible opportunity to deliver a town centre on and around Marine Parade that provides a focus and stimulus for economic growth and community pride and activity into the coming decades.

“We will build on the work already completed by Council and the Wairoa community, and develop a town centre urban design plan that recognises the local heritage of tangata whenua, the river-front (with esplanade), the town centre, and the wider district. We will also look to draw on the importance of the rural sector to the economy of the district, incredible climate, and the strategic position for travellers mid-way between the cities of Gisborne and Napier-Hastings.

Wairoa District Council Economic Development Committee chairperson Denise Eaglesome-Karekare said the CBD revitalisation is based on a lens of opportunity.

“This is our chance to do something really special with our town centre while still staying strong to who we are - Wairoa.

Mr Aiken said the town centre has huge potential both for outsiders and visitors and value for local people.

“Wairoa is well situated adjacent to the river, which creates aspect, heritage and green space.

“The town is North-facing and existing use lends itself to development.

“It is always easier to take design forward and strengthen, enhance and complement the factors that are already there.”

Mr Aiken said the importance of Queen Street should not be undervalued as a gateway and first impression and opportunity to support the main street.

Meanwhile, Vision Projects has called for expressions of interest from businesses people interested in utilising the renovated Marine Parade commercial and residential spaces which are part of the Te Wairoa E Whanake project.

Individuals, businesses and organisations interested in leasing space should email


An urban design plan for Wairoa’s town centre is underway. Pictured following the urban design plan meeting are from left, Wairoa District Council Economic Development Committee chairperson Denise Eaglesome-Karekare, Mike Hardie, Katie Bowen and Alex Powdrell of Vision Projects, WSP urban designer and planner Nick Aiken and WSP landscape architect Stefan Steyn.

24 June 2020

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