There is no denying the success of the Lower Hutt Riverbank Market on each Saturday (see photos on sidebar or here http://huttnz.vodspot.tv/).
It is testament to the foresight of James Liu, the entrepreneur who launched the market five years ago, and built it to the success that it is, especially during the summer months with up to 100 stalls present.
It is with this success in mind, the current problems with the CBD and traffic problems in Rutherford Street that the market causes that Sandra Greig Greater Wellington Regional councillor is suggesting that the market be moved to High Street to liven up the retail scene. She envisages closing High Street (from Waterloo Road to Laings Road) to through traffic.
“Trucks selling produce could line one side of the street and on wet days they could use the shop verandas and turn the truck selling point inwards. Stalls selling food and beverages use caravans, garage sale folk can use trestle tables and canopies. It would turn the Hutt into a vibrant carnival city at least on Saturdays” (via Hutt News 21 April).
David Kiddey, CEO of Business Hutt Valley is not in favour of closing off High Street to traffic ” for any reason at all” alternatives are suggested “With Dudley Street having fewer shops thats less difficult. Andrews Avenue is even better (for the market) because that can be closed off early without any real disruption. I think a better atmosphere could be created there” Some retailers get spin-off from marketstalls others see no benefit or regard them as unwanted competition. But Mr Kiddey believes a quality themed market for the Hutt CBD is “definitely worth debating” (via Hutt News 21 April).
There is no denying that the current situation around the CBD is one that the council and councillors need to address quickly give the current economy and the draw of Queensgate.
Recent consultative processes are addressing long term strategies for the CBD (https://huttnz.co.nz/2009/04/16/lower-hutt-vision-cbd-2030/) but High Street retailers and the general public are well aware of the downturn this area is experiencing. The council as leaders in this area need a call to action, by giving the right economic incentive in this area other entrepreneurs like Mr Liu or himself will quickly change the landscape.
There is potential in creating a market, as the current Riverbank Market shows by its success, equally be aware such success did not occur overnight, the right environment occurred for it to suceed both from an economic and location point of view. The success of one does not automatically guarantee the success of the other if any of these factors are changed. Equally an investigation in how to tie the benefits of both to the CBD is well worth looking into, just make the process quick.