Hutt City Council appoints Retail Co-ordinator

Further to last weeks list of LTCCP $30,000 is being put up by the Hutt City Council for each of the next three years to help pay for a retail co-ordinator for the central business district. Further to that the item has generated enough interest over Mayor Ogdens comparision to Newmarket Aucklands coordinator to warrant a TV interview on TV3

Mayor David Ogden told councillors at the recent meeting to make final decisions on the Community Plan that he is “very unhappy” with what’s happening in downtown Lower Hutt. There are too many empty shops (24 as at last month) and retailers who remain “could be better supported”.

The $30,000 would “at least” pay for a part-time co-ordinator to try to get some action going.

Cr David Bassett pointed out that Business Hutt Valley is proposing a special rate be levied on CBD businesses from 2010/11 to fund better promotion of High St, Queens Drive and the surrounding area.

But Mr Ogden argued for “something to happen now”. He pointed to Newmarket, Auckland, as an example of a thriving retail destination where businesses pull together under a very energetic co-ordinator (Cameron Brewer).

“He’s on the radio and television all the time.”

Councillors also added $20,000 p.a. to the budget to retain the retail co-ordinator for the Stokes Valley, Naenae and Taita shopping centres.

A mix of carry-over funding and $100,000 of extra spending will be used to finish off the installation of paving, seating and trees throughout the rest of the Stokes Valley (Scott Court) shopping centre. There are also plans for interactive sculptures and the work will complement a proposed donation of an artwork by Guy Ngan.

However, the work in Stokes Valley pushes out a proposed upgrade in Taita shopping centre by a year.

Councillors agreed to this on the basis it made sense to finish off all the work in Stokes Valley instead of continuing to do it piecemeal, and because the proposed extension to Walter Nash stadium, incorporating the community hall, offers potential for a comprehensive look at what’s best for the Taita shops – including potentially re-orienting the opening facades of buildings.

Completing a package of expenditure aimed at boosting economic prospects, the council agreed to lift its funding of Positively Wellington Tourism of $40,000 to $60,000. Mr Ogden said this recognises that PWT is making efforts to direct cruise ship passengers to TheNewDowse, Jackson St and Maori Treasures as well as ongoing work to attract long-haul airline services to Wellington airport.

“I don’t think we can freeload off them,” the mayor said.

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