Carterton suffers from "tidy town syndrome" and retailers and residents need to create street activities to make it more inviting and interesting, according to an urban revitalisation expert.
Carterton businesspeople and the district council have employed Brisbane-based "placemaker" guru David Engwicht as a catalyst to revitalise the town.
More than 200 people packed out the Carterton Events Centre on Monday night to hear Engwicht talk about what the community needs to do to reinvigorate its public and private spaces.
Engwicht says his impression of Carterton is that it is like many small rural towns.
It has its hanging baskets and clean footpaths, but the main street does not have its own specific identity and it is cluttered with street signage.
He says a lot of towns employ urban designers to create slick public spaces, but they lack vibrancy because people don't hang around and socialise in those areas.
Residents and retailers need to turn those "spaces" into "places" with activities for people to do.
For example, they could put chess tables at the front of the events centre or table tennis equipment in parks.
Every retailer should think of the area in front of the shop as an opportunity to attract people and keep them in town for longer.
He suggested creating "linger nodes" on the street where people can engage with each other.
The council has produced leaflets and "place making cards' to hand out which give ideas. Engwicht says creating the distinctiveness of the town should be an "organic" process led by the residents.
Greg Lang of Carterton District Business Inc says they are rapt with the turnout to Monday's meeting. A lot of ideas came out of it and it is now up to the community to run with it, he says.
"We want to revitalise the CBD and make it welcoming like the lounge of somebody's house," Engwicht says.
Engwicht's 12-month consultation is funded by Carterton District Business Inc. and the Carterton District Council with the help from Carterton Rotary Club, Town & Country Development Group and Carterton District Community Trust.
- Wairarapa News