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Community Collaboration Leads Wood Street Revitalisation Project

After months of planning, the Wood Street revitalisation project really got rolling this month, with key changes implemented following the latest community co-design workshops.

The project was initiated by the Mangawhai Business Association, who first approached Council in 2019. They wanted a solution to ease the significant traffic congestion and pedestrian safety issues in and around Wood Street.

Mangawhai Business Association Chair Alan Corkin said with changes the area could better accommodate local residents and the influx of summer visitors wanting to access the Wood Street area.

“Parking is essential to the health of the businesses in the area, but cars create congestion problems and safety concerns. The new layout attempts to resolve these issues and encourage the public to spend more time in Wood Street, ultimately benefiting the local retailers,” says Alan Corkin.

Using a ‘tactical urbanism’ approach, the Council has been collaborating with the Mangawhai Business Association and community and testing layout and design, to create a more people-friendly area. The latest interim design, in place and tested from December 2020, is 90 percent funded by Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency, as part of their Innovating Streets programme.

Building on last year’s trial and ongoing community co-design workshops held through 2020, some of the key changes include:

  • One way traffic system on Wood Street. First trialled over summer last year (2019/2020). The community feedback was positive, with more than 70 percent agreeing that it improved congestion and safety in the area. This has been implemented again.
  • Parking reconfigurations, and upgrades to parking areas. Additional parking has been incorporated near the Molesworth Drive entrance, and at the back of the old fire station site. The rear carpark temporarily installed as part the summer trial last year (behind the Senior Citizens Community Centre) has been formalised, with aggregrate laid down and wheelstops to be added. The interim design includes more off-street carparks, with the focus on parking away from the shop fronts and in large designated areas at the back.
  • Increased shared space and clearly marked pedestrian areas. Aside from the one way system, some of the most popular ideas generated at the community workshops were to create off-street parking, increase the greenery in the area, implement a more people-friendly, pedestrian-only area between shop areas, greater accessibility, and a focus on art.
  • Demolition of the old fire station. This has created more public space and increased accessibility to other spaces. Ideas on how to use the new public area include children’s art workshops, an information space for community groups, event space, and more.

There are further improvements to be implemented before Christmas, including wheelstop installation in the rear carpark, a concrete pour in the new public space on the old fire station site, more signage, and improved pedestrian access across Top Catch and Mean Burger. Mangawhai Programme Delivery Manager Tim Manning says it’s been great to have the community involved in directing the design of Wood Street.

“With the iterative ‘tactical urbanism’ approach we’ve been able to try out ideas and build on them. There are regular opportunities for the community to let us know what they think, so the project team can gauge what's working and what's not. If something isn’t working, we can change it, so we can keep improving the area. Future changes will be based on real-time feedback. We are already looking at improvements on mobility parking, an additional drop in area for takeaway customers and a loading zone out the back of the fire station site. What we want to see is a vibrant, attractive Wood Street that is people friendly,” says Tim Manning.

Kaipara District Council Community Advisor Gail Fotheringham says community collaboration has been integral to the success of the interim design.

“The Mangawhai Business Association has really led the way on this project. All of the changes have been collaborative, through multiple co-design workshops held throughout this year. Each community workshop has informed the next one. As in any design process, not all ideas have made it through to the live project stage,” says Gail Fotheringham.

“The technical team has tried to realise multiple themes in an area that was not originally built to cope with the increase in population, vehicle size and volume that we are now experiencing. The interim design, which is now in place, has been a huge effort by many, many people, and I want to acknowledge the work of the various community groups and members working so hard on this project.”

Mangawhai Shed members banded together to build the timber seating for many of the new shared space areas.

The Council parks team led a volunteer day with the community, planting low maintenance and drought resistant native plants such as coprosma kirkii, tūrutu (dianella nigra), nikau, and tukauki/mikoikoi (libertia grandiflora). The planters were provided by a local concrete company.

The road artwork is spearheaded by local artist Aaron McConchie, in collaboration with Mangawhai Artists Incorporated. The group also ran a volunteer day getting locals painting the water ripples at the entrance to Wood Street, whai (sting rays), kākahi (whales), and pātiki (flounder) that can be seen throughout the area.

“It has been a challenge to create 2D elements for the pedestrian and shared spaces while also being mindful of the multiple uses, safety concerns, special paint with limited colour palette as well as the variable surfaces to be painted on. The overall design for the painting is of the connection to the sea and the natural environment below the waves,” says Aaron McConchie.

“There is a lot more to come which will continue to help liven up the shared spaces and encourage creative uses. The street painting is the first step in defining the personality of Wood Street, I hope that with integrated/multi-purpose signage and lighting we can incorporate other elements of native fauna and flora and highlight the rich pre-colonial history of the area. While there is more painting to complete the artwork throughout the summer, we couldn’t have got this far without the efforts of our great community volunteers.”

Together with Northland Regional Council, Kaipara District Council has also reinstated the free bus service for the busiest part of the summer holidays. The Village to Beach Loop service will run from 10.00am to 5.30pm from 27 December until 17 January, and then on weekends and public holidays through to 8 February.

To view the latest aerial plans for the interim design, read Wood Street FAQs, and further information on the revitalisation project, go to www.mangawhaicommunityplan.co.nz/projects/transport.

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