Tenders called for walkway traders

BLANTON SMITH
Last updated 05:00 14/07/2014

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New Plymouth's coastal walkway is now open for business.

The district council has opened tenders, giving the public a chance to operate commercially along the popular strip of pavement, in the Huatoki Plaza and other recreational areas.

The success of ventures like the cafe-in-a-container Paris Plage had seen a surge in business inquiries and the tendering process was in response to this, parks and programmes manager Steve McGill said.

It also coincided with the release of a policy document governing commercial activity on council land.

The aim of opening tenders was to bring commercial activity that enhanced the public's experience of those spaces, parks manager Mark Bruhn said

McGill said food operators had shown the most interest, but there was also room for recreational type businesses. "We're not looking for trinket setups but something that will get people out and enjoying these areas," he said.

"Coffee seems to be doing that at the moment. Paris Plage has been a huge success."

Earlier this year Paris Plage, which offers coffee and food during the summer months, won a three-year tender to operate from the East End Reserve.

Big Wave Cafe had previously operated in the area but issues around the council charges saw the coffee caravan move on and the shipping container moved in.

McGill said businesses would likely be charged a percentage of their annual turnover.

Six business zones have been identified along the walkway, with each zone given a maximum number of operators.

Between two and six businesses could operate in a walkway zone while only two spots have been allocated to the Huatoki Plaza.

Trading hours at the Plaza will run from midnight to 4am, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, while the walkway and other public spaces will have daytime and early evening trading hours.

One of the plaza spots could be taken up by Cafe Turkey's kebab stand which is currently operating from the area in the wee hours.

It was given a three-month trial licence last year, but the council decided against renewing it following complaints by other late night food operators. However, the purpose-built cart was then given another six-month contract to operate at the start of the year.

Competition with existing businesses was the one thing Chamber of Commerce interim chief executive Shona Glentworth was worried about with the opening of tenders.

She said her concern was ensuring the council rules and charges were fair in comparison to what established businesses already paid.

"They need to add to the existing businesses, not take away from them," she said.

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However, Glentworth did say it would be great to see new businesses adding to the vibrancy of the central business district.

Bruhn said the council would consider how well a business enhanced the area by being there and whether it had a point of different.

It's hoped successful tenderers would be up and running by Christmas, McGill said.

"That's the idea of advertising now, so that they can be up and running for the summer," he said.

"Exciting and innovative, that's the type of businesses we want to see, something that's adding value."

- Taranaki Daily News

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