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Making Space for the Community’s Dreams for Masterton

Making Space for the Community’s Dreams for Masterton

Following a series of community workshops in 2016 to explore ideas of Masterton’s strengths and opportunities, a bold local programme called Our Future Masterton is getting up and running to help bring to life community ideas and enable a citizen driven 50-year vision for the Masterton town centre.

“The nature of our town centre is changing, and this programme recognises that,” says District Council chief executive Pim Borren. “It puts more of the ownership and control of planning for our future in the hands of the full diversity of the people who will inherit it, not just council staff or any particular interest group in Masterton. We very excited to sponsor this project.”

The programme is being facilitated by the 2016 workshop’s creators, celebrated national public art and urban revitalisation project Letting Space and Massey University group Toi Aria: Design for Public Good.

“The real owners of Our Future Masterton are the community,” says spokesperson for the project Mark Amery. “Real change happens when the community feel able to realise their dreams and ideas for a place - be they businesses, community groups, Iwi, property owners or artists.

“This isn’t a project about making immediate permanent changes in the Masterton centre, rather it provides a space to trial fun, engaging ideas from the public, who best know their town. It’s an open project, gathering past ideas that have been left unrealised together with the new. To create a vision future generations can own and put into place.”

Reports from the 2016 workshops are now available to view on the Masterton District Council website, and Our Future Masterton this week launched a Facebook page as a portal for information about the project. Here the public can keep up to date with updates.

In April some initial street visualisations of citizen ideas for the CBD from the workshops were presented to council and these will be available soon for public viewing and feedback.

The first aspect of Our Future Masterton to publicly launch this week however is a job callout to appoint a broker for Urban Dream Brokerage. This is a programme Letting Space already run successfully in Wellington, Dunedin and Porirua with council, community trust and chamber of commerce support.

Urban Dream Brokerage brokers the use of vacant commercial space for innovative ideas generated by the community, encouraging the revitalisation of CBDs and testing out new uses for public areas. The job description is available online at http://www.urbandreambrokerage.org.nz/blog.
The Urban Dream Brokerage service has facilitated over 70 projects over three centres, and has been heralded by property owners, community groups and councils alike nationally in helping revive CBDs. 70% of the 34 properties occupied in Wellington city over the last four years have been re-tenanted after activation..

President of the Wellington Branch of the Property Council of New Zealand Mike Cole says the work of Urban Dream Brokerage creates a win-win for property owners and community projects.

“These vacant properties are often then seen in a new light and leased post-event. It encourages diversity, a sense of community and public interaction in our cities.”

Following 2016 community workshop feedback the Masterton brokerage will extend to placing projects and events into public spaces as well as vacant commercial space. Applications for the broker position (applicants need to be a Masterton local), are due Monday 15 May. The appointment is being made in partnership with an advisory panel of diverse Masterton individuals, coming out of last year’s workshops.

“This is an exciting time to try out some new ideas in the Masterton town centre that don’t commit us to costly changes that don’t represent all of our future generation’s needs”, add Pim Borren.

Our Future Masterton will also include this year a physical ‘Our Future Masterton’ Hub: located in Queens Street, this will be a hands-on temporary interactive space so people can share ideas for the future, comment on other past and present ideas and explore potential areas of physical spatial change in the CBD.

“We want to hear the community’s dreams and to share ideas for creating a future Masterton, that we all can love and enjoy,” says Mark Amery. “Through a range of fun activities people can be part of a citizen-led design for Masterton and its CBD. Not just for next year, but for the decades ahead: a legacy to future generations, that young and old contribute towards — a collective 50-year vision.”

“The role of young people is crucial to the programme and the Our Future Masterton project is also thrilled to be able to partner with the UNICEF: Map Your World project, led by Wairarapa local Jacqui Southey. Together we will be working with school students and youth groups across the district to see young people help create a vision for future Masterton.”

The details about specific events and activities will be announced as they develop and a public call out for ideas for the Urban Dream Brokerage made soon. Regular updates will be provided through the dedicated Facebook page, and newsletters.

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