Greening of south city floated

ALEX FENSOME
Last updated 05:00 29/10/2012

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South Alive's ambitious plans for south Invercargill were introduced to a packed St Andrew's Hall yesterday, with a proposal to introduce a succession of green spaces and make aesthetic improvements.

The South Alive urban rejuvenation project aims to spruce up the shabby south-city area.

Consultant Craig Pocock, of Pocock Design Environment, outlined some of the immediate and longer-term suggestions for improving south city.

All the bones of a thriving community were there, he said, it just needed to be spruced up.

"Pocket parks" - small green spaces with benches and art - on the corner of Elles Rd and Martin St, and Elles Rd and Grace St, were an achievable first step.

South Alive also wanted to see the pavement in Elles Rd "greened up" with trees, where possible.

Where the pavement was not wide enough, there could be poles with climbing plants and hanging baskets, Mr Pocock said.

There was also an opportunity for a big piece of public art, along the lines of Len Lye's wind wand in New Plymouth - although not a copy of it - in the median strip of Elles Rd, he said.

Mr Pocock's designs have been influenced by some of the developments in post-earthquake Christchurch, which include "pop-up parks" and other temporary public spaces. He has also lived and worked in New York, where more informal public areas have been created on street corners with the addition of concrete blocks for seating.

His idea for a landscaped grass area, play park, cafe, stage, basketball court and community vegetable patch, on the disused land in Ness St behind Bin Inn, was intended to improve the flow of people into South City Mall and the area around it. This would boost retail in the area as well as provide a community asset, he said.

A community hub building, with facilities for IT, business and arts, was a longer-term goal, and would require significant funding.

Invercargill city councillor Neil Boniface said most of this year's $300,000 urban rejuvenation budget was likely to go to South Alive.

However, he had earlier told the meeting the council wanted to ensure a rates rise of only 2 per cent next year, so South Alive had to fight for its projects in the face of decreasing funding in the future.

There had been tentative support from the Invercargill Licensing Trust and the Community Trust of Southland, who could possibly come on board in time, Mr Boniface said.

South Alive project co-ordinator Janette Malcolm said it could not rely solely on the council to fund its plans.

Some of the roading changes needed for the pocket parks and pavement revamps could come from the annual roading money, but South Alive knew it had to look elsewhere for funding too, she said.

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The South Alive group opened an office in South City Mall on Friday.

- The Southland Times

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