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Mixed feelings ahead of Kilbirnie rejuvenation

But what do locals think of the $1.5m plan?

RUTH KEBER
Last updated 12:39 01/10/2012

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Work is now under way for Wellington City Council's $1.5 million Kilbirnie town centre makeover, but regulars and residents are not sure the upgrade will improve the suburb.

A decision was made by the Wellington City Council to upgrade the Kilbirnie CBD in the hope of creating "an attractive, vibrant, people-friendly and prosperous part of Wellington".

Proposed changes would include two new attractive pedestrian crossings, including Pohutukawa Crossing, which will be easier and safer for pedestrians to use than the existing ones on Bay Rd.

The centre of Bay Rd would be improved with widened footpaths, more lighting and seating and coastal plants.

The carpark on the corner of Coutts St and Bay Rd would be converted into an attractive shared space. including a public area which could be used for weekend markets and events. 

Parking layout and time limits along Bay Rd were also set to be changed.

Wellington City Councillor Iona Pannett said the upgrade was part of a long-term plan to encourage growth in significant urban areas known as a "growth spine".

"The improvements will significantly improve the look and feel to the town centre, and we are aiming for a real coastal flavour."

The suburbs of Miramar and Johnsonville had also been ear-marked for makeovers.

The have been discussions between Wellington City Council and Kilbirnie residents since June 2009 in regards to the project.

The Crystal People store manager and Kilbirnie home owner Dallas Parker said she was unsure whether the revamp would do anything for Kilbirnie.

"Yes and no. As a ratepayer, no, because I'm paying for it."

Miss Parker, who had lived in the area for 27 years, said she was unable to see the benefits and there were other pressing issues such as with people drinking in the street during the day which should be dealt with.

She said the idea of more seating in the area could encourage more people drinking during the day and that she received frequent complaints from customers about parking in the area.

Wellington City Councillor Stephanie Cook said the new development had been designed to discourage anti-social behaviour and that the council would look into any "specific issue."

Miss Parker said improving the crossings on Bay Rd was a good idea.

"Proper crossings will be really good, people need to pay attention, there have been some close calls and it's quite scary," she said.

Flight Centre International Travel Consultant Emma Crampton, who had worked in the area for 15 months, thinks the upgrade will make the town more aesthetically pleasing.

"It will be a nicer environment to work in," she said.

"It's a step in the right direction for Kilbirnie - it's often seen as a rougher area.

"The upgrade will definitely help the suburb."

Miss Crampton, who lived in Khandallah, said she did not think the changes in parking would matter.

"A lot of the people who come here to shop probably live in the area so they can easily walk," she said.

The upgrade would continue until December 1 when construction would halt for the holiday shoppers and recommence in the new year, with work completed by March 2012.

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Full details of the revitalisation plan are available at Wellington City Council's website here.

- The Dominion Post

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