Levin Town Centre transformation a step closer to reality
The transformation of Levin Town Centre came a step closer to reality as Horowhenua District Council adopted the Transforming Taitoko/Levin – Town Centre Strategy at its meeting yesterday.
Deputy Mayor Wayne Bishop said the strategy enables a common vision for different stakeholders to work together towards a vibrant and resilient town centre that meets the needs of existing and future residents.
“We need to make sure growth in Levin Town Centre is well integrated and works for how people will use the town centre in the future,” he said.
Levin Ward Councillor Bernie Wanden said key reasons for the strategy were growth, the impact of the Ōtaki to North of Levin Expressway (Ō2NL) decision, and changing retail, social and employment trends.
“As online shopping becomes more popular, we expect the town centre to evolve from a place to ‘get stuff’ into a place to ‘do stuff’, so we need a space that can offer a range of activities and social experiences.”
Cr Wanden said the recent announcement that State Highway 1 will bypass Levin in the future makes it important that Levin establishes itself as a destination, as well as offering an opportunity to make the town centre more attractive and pedestrian-friendly.
Levin Ward Councillor Victoria Kaye-Simmons said the strategy reflected feedback from the public, retailers and business owners during consultation, when more than 600 people voiced their thoughts on the future of Levin’s town centre.
“People told us they wanted our town centre to offer a better quality experience. This strategy will create a vibrant heart for Levin, with a central space for people to socialise, high quality food and beverage options, and a night-time economy. A vibrant town centre will bring people into Levin, unlock high value employment opportunities, act as a catalyst for investment and create new markets,” she said.
The strategy contains a number of short, medium and long-term actions. Following adoption of the strategy, Council officers will engage with stakeholders and determine the feasibility, costs and delivery of three key short-term projects to be carried out over the next one to three years as catalysts for transformation.
Group Manager Strategy and Development David McCorkindale said one of the projects is to develop a laneway and town square as a central place for activity and socialising by providing an enhanced pedestrian-friendly east-west connection between Oxford Street and the Mall Carpark.
“Having a pedestrian-friendly central space will suit food and beverage operators that complement the retail options in Oxford Street, rather than competing with them. It will also allow a night-time economy to develop, and enable more shops, cafes and restaurants to be constructed within the existing urban area,” he said.
A second project would investigate turning the Levin Memorial Hall into a ‘co-work’ space, with a café, for growing home-based and start-up businesses.
“This will help to attract high-value businesses, increase urban employment, and boost activity in the town centre,” Mr McCorkindale said. “It will also retain the commemorative value and the public connection to the hall.”
A third project aims to improve the appearance of Oxford Street by reducing retail signage, repairing buildings and verandahs, and adding design elements.
The purpose of these projects is to celebrate Oxford Street as Levin’s key urban asset by improving overall appearance and quality, unlock opportunities for an evening economy and other sectors not currently provided for within the town centre to establish, and boost the potential for urban employment.
Mr McCorkindale also signalled a placemaking exercise in the town centre during the summer of 2018/19.
“Placemaking projects improve a particular place to make them more interesting, exciting or attractive to users. They are usually temporary and delivered alongside the community. The aim is to encourage people use a space differently, and foster positive social connections.”