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The Southend Business Group, Newest Business Association In Lower Hutt

Lower Hutt's newest business association has been registered as an Incorporated Society after obtaining the unanimous support of members who attended a recent meeting to approve the rules and vote on a motion to incorporate.

The idea for a Southend Business Group was developed in 2017 in response to a stagnating state of the High Street in Lower Hutt, and the proposal for the future development of the RiverLink project. Local business owner, Michael Gray filed a submission to speak to Council on behalf of business owners in the Southern end of the High Street, unfairly characterized by commentators as an area where tumbleweeds were more common than pedestrians. Michael's goal was to raise the profile of the area by looking to beautify the precinct and increase activities at attract people and businesses.

In May 2017, when Michael Gray spoke to his submission to the Hutt City Council, he encouraged the Council to include the existing CBD streets of High Street and Queens Drive in the planning of RiverLink. He spoke of beautification of the streets, of having events and activities in the streets, and wanting to start a conversation on creating more pedestrian spaces by closing a street or two. The Council tasked Michael to come up and present a plan to them, which he and fellow Southend business, Baseline Design Studio, collaborated on to create concept designs for a Southend Identity and project plans for implementation. The Southend Business Group was formed after receiving funding from Council to implement their ideas.

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Michael Gray confirms "Finally we have been able to formalize the SEBG, this has taken some time to be done, but I am really excited for the group to now start implementing the ideas within the area. Hopefully we can get the Southend branded signs installed at the entrances to the area, along with more plantings and a few beautification projects underway. I hope placemaking and events will be the norm in the area." SEBG is keen to get the wider community involved. "We also welcome public input, so we can achieve the main goal of enhancing The Southend of High Street, its connecting streets and laneways, with very little effort, can become the Main Attraction to Lower Hutt, where people can Shop, Dine, Play, Relax and Gather" says Michael.

The precinct is defined around High Street from the southern entrance, extending up to Margaret Street. It includes the adjacent parallel streets of Dudley Street and Queens Drive (south of Margaret Street), plus cross links of Laings Road, Andrews Avenue and Margaret Street. The group will focus on the original plan to activate and beautify the streets, encourage businesses to work together, supporting each other and maintaining their connection with the Hutt City Council through regular reporting.

Lower Hutt Mayor Campbell Barry welcomed the Southend Business Group becoming an Incorporated Society. "The Southend Business Group has been, and will continue to be a strong voice for the businesses at the southern end of Lower Hutt's CBD. I look forward to engaging with them, and all of our businesses, as our city tackles the challenges that lie ahead."

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