$2.6m revamp for Balclutha

A planned $2.6 million makeover of Balclutha's main street has shop owners hopeful that more people will stop and spend money in their stores.

Balclutha's main street upgrade, part of Clutha District Council's long term plan, is aimed at encouraging more people to stop and spend time in the area, resulting in economic benefits for the town.

Three design consultants were last week given the go-ahead to propose concept designs for the main street upgrade,

These were Balclutha-based MWH/LA4, Queenstown's Baxter Design and Boffa Miskell in Christchurch.

H&J Smith store manager Tanya Wallace said the upgrade was a wonderful idea and would improve business.

"It will beautify the street and make people stop," she said.

"It's onward and upward for the town," she said.

White Willow fashion store owner Jo Creighton said it was a positive step. It would make the town a lot more inviting for people travelling through on the state highway, she said.

However, The Gate Cafe owner Michelle Jury said while the town would look tidier, she was unsure if it would make a difference to business.

Balclutha was a "bypass town" and the global recession had already forced shops to close and people had lost their jobs, she said.

Council districts assets manager Jules Witt said that as part of the upgrade the council would look at installing underground power lines and upgrading footpaths.

Last year's long term plan included a budget of $2.6m for the project, of which undergrounding of power lines in the main central business district would cost $400,000, and footpaths $550,000.

The rest of the upgrade would depend of the design proposals, but could include the redesign of road layouts, new street furniture and plantings, Mr Witt said.

Each tenderer would put together concept designs and estimates for the upgrade, and a reference group and main street retailers would help choose the designs, which were expected to be released for public consultation around the middle of the year, he said.


The Southland Times