Should a Thriving Central City be one of NPDC's Focus Areas
26 May 2017
Reinforcing New Plymouth as a destination for leisure, events and cultural activities is the aim of the proposed Central City top 10 Focus Area – and New Plymouth District Council wants residents to have their say.
“Our goal is to have a retail and cultural hub that lures local, national and international visitors alike,” says Councillor Alan Melody.
“This will in turn bring jobs and business opportunities, supporting ongoing economic growth in our district.
“We’ll be starting the discussion on the Council’s Facebook page and encouraging people to fill in our survey so they can share their thoughts on the issue.”
The survey is online at newplymouthnz.com/Top10 – everyone who fills it in goes in the draw to win an iPad!
Councillor Shaun Biesiek says New Plymouth’s central city has been the business, social and cultural hub of Taranaki for more than 170 years.
“When it’s pumping, everyone is better off. Businesses prosper, creating new jobs, and shoppers come for a wider range of goods, services and have a great time,” he says.
“Visitors have a more exciting stay and are more likely to return or recommend New Plymouth as a destination.
“The Lonely Planet global accolade is driving a wave of publicity that is benefiting our retail sector and keeping the tills ringing. But it needs our help to sustain this vitality for future generations.
“Visitor and shopping trends are changing. We’ve all seen empty shops, the growing trend of buying online and competition from big retail hubs such as The Valley. It’s a sign the Central City needs to seize new opportunities and be more creative.”
Examples of being more creative include the Utopia Multimedia Festival in March, putting in lighting to accentuate art in the Huatoki Plaza and support for heritage conservation, such as funding earthquake-proofing of the old TSB Bank and the Hookers Building.
The Council is working with the Taranaki Chamber of Commerce and the Business and Retailers Association (BARA) to create opportunities during big events that bring a surge in visitors – for instance, entertainers and buskers in the Central City during WOMAD.
When a cruise ship visited earlier this year, shops opened on Sunday and had German translations in their windows.
Other opportunities in the year ahead include the All Blacks match against Argentina, the Shop Local and Spring promotions, Art in the Street, the Running of the Bulls and the Taranaki International Arts Festival.
“When Yusuf-Cat Stevens plays here in December, we’ll help retailers with a market day when food, entertainment and great shopping will take over Devon Street,” says Mr Melody.
“We’re also devising a summer programme including a Festival of Laughs, starring top comedians, to run alongside the Festival of Lights, a bike race and a skateboarding competition.”
Adds Mr Biesiek: “Our support for heritage buildings has helped create the West End Precinct, which fans out from the renovated White Hart Hotel to include boutique shops, businesses and upmarket bars and eateries.
“Down the track, we’re looking at free wi-fi so people can stay connected while shopping, browsing and dining.”
Rubbish to Get the Smart Bin Treatment in Okato
24 May 2017
As part of delivering a more cost-effective and high-quality service, New Plymouth District Council is about to bring the ‘smart rubbish bin’ treatment to Okato.
Two solar-powered Big Belly bins will be installed in the town next week following successful trials of the bins at Kawaroa Park and the Mt Bryan Reserve car park in New Plymouth.
“We’ve had really good results from the New Plymouth sites, for both cost-saving and reducing the amount of litter on the ground,” says Manager Parks and Open Spaces Stuart Robertson.
“It’ll be great to bring those same results to Okato.”
The bins compress rubbish and send an alert to the Council when they are ready to be emptied.
Before the Big Belly bins were installed at Kawaroa and Pig-Out Point the Council would empty rubbish bins at these sites once a day at this time of year. Now, a collection crew is sent only every second day, “and even then the bins aren’t full thanks to the rubbish being compacted”, says Mr Robertson.
The two new bins will replace the nine existing rubbish bins in central Okato, yet will have greater overall capacity. They will be installed in the centre of town next to the noticeboard and at the playground.
In addition, a public seat in the town centre will be replaced with one made from the same recycled plastic material used in the planks that comprise the boardwalk in front of Waitara’s Marine Park.
NPDC Lends Expert Staff to Join the Fight against Myrtle Rust
23 May 2017
Horticulture staff from New Plymouth District Council (NPDC) have joined forces with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to hunt out myrtle rust in Taranaki.
Manager Parks and Open Spaces Stuart Robertson says NPDC is happy to support MPI to try to contain the menacing fungus.
“We have a team of expert arborist who have years of experiencing looking after native trees. These skills will be invaluable supporting MPI to identify and combat myrtle rust,” he says.
“One of the first steps in managing an invasive species is to identify the scale of the problem and we have the people-power to help with that,” he says.
“Myrtle rust has the potential to badly affect some of our iconic vegetation. Everyone can do their bit by keeping an eye on the plants in their gardens and in public areas and if they spot something that could be myrtle rust, don’t touch the plant – just take a photo and contact MPI.”
The NPDC team has received training from MPI on detecting myrtle rust in sites throughout the region, which so far has 10 sites where the fungal disease has been confirmed.
The fungus attacks various species of plants in myrtle family, such as pōhutukawa, mānuka, rātā, kānuka, swamp maire and ramarama. Commercially-grown species such as eucalyptus, feijoa and guava are also susceptible.
Myrtle rust spores are microscopic and can easily spread across large distances by wind, or via insects, birds, people, or machinery.
If you think you’ve seen myrtle rust…
1. Don’t touch the infection – this will spread the disease.
2. Take a photo if you can, without touching any plant material.
3. Mark the site with a ribbon or similar; ensure you can describe your whereabouts.
4. Phone the MPI hotline 0800 80 99 66 immediately.
For more information visit mpi.govt.nz.
Should We Improve Waitara's Stormwater System?
22 May 2017
New Plymouth District Council’s (NPDC) community conversation on its proposed10 Focus Areas continues this week with the issue of Waitara’s stormwater.
A new survey on this topic is online at newplymouthnz.com/Top10, and everyone who takes part goes in the draw to win an iPad.
In the 1820s, Waitara became the first port in Taranaki and the town started to develop around it. It grew in an ad-hoc manner and design standards, historically, were very different from today.
Compounding this is that Waitara is a settlement adjacent to the coast and built on low-lying swampy land largely at sea-level. It has Taranaki’s largest river running right through it and a high water table.
Waitara has always been prone to flooding and like most of Taranaki, it experiences high rainfall – an average of more than 1500mm per annum. Even in its driest month Waitara can receive nearly 100mm of rain.
Says Councillor Colin Johnston: “Over the decades the town has experienced some of New Zealand’s worst flooding, for example in 1971 when more than 250mm rain fell in just 24 hours.
“So today, when there is a severe storm there may be stormwater flooding in the town. Pipes reach capacity, the excess stormwater tries to find its own way out and stop-banks built to keep the river from flooding act as a barrier to water escaping.
“This is exacerbated by huge volumes of water from the large rural area nearby that also need to be released.”
There are other factors at play too. As Waitara is largely flat, it is difficult to build pipe networks with sufficient slope to smoothly get rid of excess water.
When the stormwater system is overwhelmed during wild weather, stormwater starts to find its way into the sewer system. This increases the volume of water in the sewer system until it too, is overwhelmed, resulting in rare and unplanned overflows.
“We know during severe storms, flooding makes life tough for homes and businesses in the town,” says Councillor Johnston. “We care about this community and want to make it better. During the last two years just over $1.5 million has been spent on upgrading Waitara’s stormwater. But a lot more needs to be done.”
Says Mayor Neil Holdom “So we’re investing in modelling high-rainfall events to predict the effects of flooding in the town. This will identify potential options for improving the town’s stormwater and what it might cost.”
During the next year, the Council will be listening to and talking with the people of Waitara about this modelling, sharing possible solutions and what they might cost which is expected to be many millions.
The Council will then propose including these solutions in its 10-year budget (called the long-term plan).
“So go on, have your say and let us know if you think Waitara stormwater should be a Focus Area for our district,” says the Mayor.
The Journey Towards Zero Waste
18 May 2017
Proposals on how to make inroads into being Zero Waste by 2040 are about to be considered by New Plymouth District Council’s (NPDC) elected members.
The Draft Waste Management and Minimisation Plan is a six-year overview that details where the district is at with waste and recycling, the areas we can improve and what action we can take to achieve Zero Waste, says Infrastructure Manager David Langford.
“Our community has expressed a strong desire for the Council to drive a reduction in waste and improve how we as a community manage it – something that’s been reinforced through our recent public conversation around the proposal Focus Area of Zero Waste 2040,” he says.
The draft plan lists the district’s key goals as: Maximising opportunities to reduce levels of waste sent to the landfill. (The region sends about 55,000 tonnes of waste to the landfill each year – about 40 per cent of which could be recycled or composted.) Reducing the harmful and costly effects of waste, e.g. reducing the instances of illegal dumping. Improving efficiency of resource use. NPDC proposes to deliver on these goals by: Changing the current kerbside collection of a weekly 60L rubbish bag and two fortnightly recycling bins (one for glass and one for general recycling) to a fortnightly 120L rubbish bin and three recycling bins (for glass, general recycling and food/green waste). Growing the Council’s education programmes to drive behaviour change. Developing collaboration and partnerships in the district, regionally and nationally. Showing leadership and innovation by modelling good practice in Council facilities and addressing commercial waste. If all of the proposed changes are approved after public consultation, it would result in an additional $2.15 per week on household rates.
“We will be wanting public feedback on the proposals so we intend to open them up to public consultation in the middle of June, after the Planning Committee has approved the draft plan,” says Mr Langford.
The draft plan will be considered by NPDC’s four community boards next week and the Planning Committee on 6 June – watch Planning Committee meeting live online at newplymouthnz.com.
As a result of the current Waste Management and Minimisation Plan the Council established a new kerbside rubbish and recycling service, which began nearly two years ago. Since then: The volume of kerbside waste dropped from 12,000 tonnes per annum (2014/15) to 7,000 tonnes (2015/16) due to increased recycling. Kerbside recycling has increased: items being recycled rather than put in rubbish bags has increased from 13 per cent of kerbside waste to 45 per cent. Customer satisfaction has increased to 82 per cent from 72 per cent in 2015. In 2016/17, the cost of NPDC’s solid waste services was $8.2 million, funded by fees, waste levies and rates.
Make Way for Taranaki Launched
16 May 2017
Taranaki’s Regional Economic Development Strategy Lead Team is proud to officially launch Make Way for Taranaki – a project to prepare an economic strategy and plan of action for the region for the next 10 years.
It’s a ‘Team Taranaki’ approach drawn from local businesses and organisations, iwi, and central and local government. Economics are important but feedback so far is that themes of well-being, lifestyle and quality of life are just as important to Taranaki people.
“The Make Way for Taranaki project will focus on unlocking the best opportunities for regional economic growth and the ongoing success of the region. I’m pleased to work alongside a team of talented and enthusiastic individuals,” says Lead Team Chair Peter Tennent.
The Taranaki Mayoral Forum is the sponsor of the project.
“The point of difference in this project is the focus on a whole-of-region approach with business and government working as one,” says South Taranaki District Mayor Ross Dunlop.
“The region’s Mayoral Forum is keen to see everyone working as one team towards successful outcomes that the region can grab with both hands.”
The project has involved interviews, workshops and focus groups with Taranaki people. Statistical analysis and other research will be undertaken. Once completed, it is likely that hundreds of people will have been involved in the exercise.
“The work to date has involved many conversations with dozens of Taranaki people and the same messages keep emerging – Taranaki has huge potential beyond its known dairy and energy sectors,” says New Plymouth District Mayor Neil Holdom.
Taranaki Regional Council Chair David MacLeod agrees: “This project will be about identifying emerging growth opportunities and identifying future industries – some of which may still simply be ‘bright ideas’. Technology and markets are moving fast and so must we,” he says.
At its first meeting, the Lead Team considered a draft list of opportunities that have emerged from research to date. They have identified a preferred ‘direction of travel’ for the Make Way for Taranaki strategy that will set the tone for work over the next few months. The final Action Plan is due for release in October 2017.
Māori will be a key contributor.
“Māori are a major emerging force in our economy and therefore will play a key role in future prosperity of our region. We’re pleased to be part of this planning while at the same time acknowledging the Te Ao Māori (the Māori World),” says Te Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa Chair Liana Poutu.
The Mayor of Stratford District sums up the work of Make Way for Taranaki: “The region is on the cusp of unlocking some amazing opportunities, so Make Way for Taranaki New Zealand ’cause here we come!” says Mayor Neil Volzke.
The Lead Team is: Peter Tennent (Chair), Neil Holdom, David MacLeod, Bronwyn Muir, Dan Radcliffe, Robin Brockie, Mark Robinson, Scott Walls, Kevin Murphy, Sophie Braggins, Andrew Clennett, Wharehoka Wano, Te Pahunga (Marty) Davis, Liana Poutu, Al Morrison.
Calvert Road Railway Pedestrian Crossing Opens
12 May 2017
Residents and visitors are now able to get to the coast from New Plymouth’s Calvert Road much more safely than before.
Today (Friday), a formal pedestrian crossing of the railway line has been opened at the end of Calvert Road.
The crossing includes pedestrian mazes, warning signs and an upgraded stepped path down to Ocean View Parade.
“We’re really happy with the result, especially as we now have a formal crossing that meets the safety requirements around railway lines,” says NPDC Infrastructure Manager David Langford.
“However, people still need to take care when crossing any railway line. Only cross at a formal pedestrian level crossing, make sure you are free of distractions such as mobile phones or listening to music, and look for trains before you cross.”
Cook Street Safety Project Enters New Stage
02 May 2017
A road intersection in Marfell will be closed for eight days as part of an upgrade to improve pedestrian and driver safety.
From Monday next week (8 May) the Cook Street/Omata Road intersection will close to all traffic so that a raised threshold can be poured.
The threshold is part of a project to narrow the intersection, in response to public requests to encourage slower traffic on the road.
“We apologise for any difficulties that the closure will cause, but the end result will be a slower speed environment that will benefit local residents and visitors,” says NPDC Manager Transportation Carl Whittleston.
The intersection will reopen on the morning of Tuesday 16 May, weather permitting.
During the closure, Route 3 of the New Plymouth commuter bus service will detour from the bottom of Cook Street to Grenville Street, turning left onto Endeavour Street and left onto Omata Road to continue its designated route.
Passengers are requested to catch the bus before it detours onto Grenville Street or to use the stop located at 50 Omata Road (around the corner from Cook Street).
The narrowing of the intersection of Cook Street and Adventure Place has been completed as part of the development of a new entrance to Marfell Park.
Be Bright, Be Visible, Be Seen on Taranaki Roads
24 April 2017
As the daylight hours become shorter, all road users are reminded to look twice for safety and make sure they are seen as winter sets in.
The Be Seen campaign is a region-wide effort to improve the safety of pedestrians, cyclists, drivers and other road users.
“As an avid mountain biker with my family, there are simple steps that people can take make it easier for others to see them on the road and to be certain that your way is clear while you’re travelling,” says Mayor Neil Holdom.
“Using lights and hi-viz clothing makes people so much easier to spot during winter. Also, if you get into the habit of looking twice before stepping onto a road or while you’re driving, you’re more likely to see people or vehicles that are harder to see when the sun goes down.”
To promote the importance of being seen, checkpoints will be on the Coastal Walkway this Wednesday (26 April) evening, manned by the Mayor, MP for New Plymouth Jonathan Young and Shell Todd Oil Services (STOS) General Manager Rob Jager.
All walkers, runners and riders who wear bright, reflective clothing or have lights will be rewarded with chocolate, and there will be reflective armbands, backpack covers and bike lights handed out to those who don’t have them.
Says Jonathan Young: “As a regular cyclist on our Coastal Walkway, I understand the importance of care in using this shared space with other cyclists and walkers.
“Easily being seen is very much part of the etiquette that will ensure the ongoing enjoyment of such a wonderful shared space, especially as the darker winter days are nearly upon us.”
Be Seen is part of the ‘What are you Missing?’ road education programme. Its key points are: Wearing bright colours when out walking and riding could be the difference between being seen or not. Never assume you have been seen. Look twice: when you quickly scan the road your brain picks up only what it is expecting to see, so take a second look. Look and think ahead when driving. If you’re about to come into some sunstrike or a section of shading, you might not see a child waiting at a pedestrian crossing or a cyclist heading up the hill into the light. Be Seen is a region-wide collaboration between Roadsafe Taranaki, New Plymouth Police, NPiS, STOS and New Plymouth District Council.
Council's Innovation and Excellence Leads to National Award
24 April 2017
An on-going project to improve knowledge about cultural heritage sites in New Plymouth District has resulted in a national award.
New Plymouth District Council has won the Innovation in Policy and Regulatory Development Category of the SOLGM Excellence Awards for its work alongside iwi and hapu in identifying the locations and the importance of waahi tapu sites.
The judges particularly praised how the Council collaborated with iwi and hapu, and the smart use of GIS technology. The development of a GIS viewer has allowed iwi, hapu and the Council to share information to support the project.
“There was a lot of interest from other councils who haven’t gone to this depth working with iwi and hapu, and their waahi tapu information,” says NPDC Acting Chief Executive Alan Bird.
“It’s often an issue for councils to firstly build a meaningful relationship with tangata whenua and secondly to back it up with a good, reliable system that iwi and hapu can use for recording the sites’ histories and helping with their response to resource consent applications.”
The review of waahi tapu and archaeological sites, which started in 2007, was necessary for the Council to meet its statutory obligations as the location of many sites were not exact.
The review means the Council and tangata whenua have accurate information about these sites, and resource consents for developments will be assessed with greater accuracy and provide more certainty for developers and the community.
A short video about the project is here.
Also at the awards, NPDC Infrastructure Manager David Langford was a finalist in the Young Leaders Award, receiving a Highly Commended citation.
The Society for Local Government Managers (SOLGM) is a national organisation for local government professionals. It promotes innovation and excellence in management practice and develops the sector’s capability to enhance service delivery to local communities.
Public Warned of Cat Stevens Tickets on Resale Sites
05 April 2017
New Plymouth District Council is urging the public to steer clear of ticket resale sites when purchasing tickets to Yusuf/Cat Stevens at the TSB Bowl of Brooklands in December.
Tickets had already gone up on global ticketing site Viagogo at phenomenal prices, following a Cat Stevens Fan Club pre-sale opportunity on Monday 3 April.
NPDC Venues and Events Manager Ron Murray says it is a timely reminder for the public to stay away from sites such as Viagogo when purchasing tickets.
“We saw it recently with the Adele concert, in that people ran into trouble for having either invalid tickets, or tickets that weren’t actually in the seating they had paid top dollar for. The risk with buying from these sites is that you’re forking out a lot more money without having any idea whether your ticket is valid or not.”
Viagogo was showing General Admission tickets for sale yesterday at more than $650.
The TSB Bowl of Brooklands, TSB Stadium Yarrow Stadium and the TSB Showplace all fall under the New Plymouth Event Venues umbrella and contract Ticketek to provide all ticketing services.
“We encourage all those buying tickets to Cat Stevens, and other events at our venues, to purchase from either the TSB Showplace Box Office, South Taranaki i-SITE, Stratford i-SITE, or online through Ticketek. That way, they will avoid any risk of running into trouble at the event,” says Mr Murray.
“Often the venue and show promotor are not obliged to honour tickets that aren’t valid, nor are they in a position to assist with refunds or providing alternative options, particularly if the event is sold out. We want to try and eliminate any of our community members having to deal with that sort of unpleasant experience.”
General public on-sale for Yusuf/Cat Stevens at the TSB Bowl of Brooklands on 16 December will be available from 10am today (Wednesday).