At the 2015 LGNZ EXCELLENCE Awards.
MartinJenkins EXCELLENCE Award for Local Economic Contribution.
Highly Commended: Rotorua Lakes District Council – Inner City Revitalisation Project
Rotorua City Council’s innovative Inner City Revitalisation project was designed to ‘bring the heart and soul back to the city’ through strong engagement with businesses and communities.
The project was launched in 2013 in response to changes in retail trends, with shoppers increasingly using online purchasing, and increasing numbers of vacant shops in the CBD. The inner city, once the economic powerhouse of the district, was no longer thriving and there was a strong demand for revitalisation, particularly from the business community.
Focus groups were formed and a programme of innovative ventures launched to explore the community’s ideas for revitalising the CBD – including opening an ‘Ideas Store’ in an empty shop.
Some of the many other initiatives that developed from the project ranged from weekly competitions, an ‘I love Rotorua’ wall and community Scrub Day to clean up the CBD, to pop-up art galleries, public garden makeovers – with passers-by encouraged to get involved with planting – an annual Tulip Festival and the Light Rotorua Campaign to decorate the city for Christmas.
Surveys have shown that 80 percent of inner city business operators are satisfied or very satisfied with the measures taken. Between 2005 and 2013 pedestrian traffic had dropped by 26 percent in the city. Since the revitalisation project was launched, it has been steadily increasing.
Judges praised the scheme for its great commitment and partnership with business.
LGNZ president Lawrence Yule said, “This is an important venture, with interesting new initiatives achieving excellent community buy-in and providing real opportunities to improve the economic wellbeing of the area.”
This article was first published in the August 2015 issue of NZ Local Government Magazine.