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Council seeks public consultation on City Centre Framework and Street Design Manual

Friday May 31 2013

The City Centre Framework and the Street Design Manual are two initiatives from the City’s Urban Design Strategy. Residents have until the 5th of July to provide feedback.

The Strategy identified the following priority areas to focus on: the city centre, the Manawatū River, street design, structure planning of growth areas, embedding design criteria in the District Plan, and placemaking.

The Street Design Manual will ensure that the street network is developed in a way that balances the needs of all street users and aesthetics.

Policy planner, Matthew Mackay, says successful street design prioritises people, cyclists, public transport, and then other vehicles. "People and cyclists should feel safe in the street environment. On some streets this means moving from cycle lanes, to building Separated Cycling Facilities located between the footpath and parked cars. International research shows that cyclists feel the safest when separated from fast moving traffic, and this leads to more people cycling."

The City Centre Framework is focused on medium to long term investments and also provides context to the city's placemaking initiative. Placemaking allows City centre framework actions to be prototyped and tested in a low-cost, and easily-reversible way prior to larger investments.

Urban design policy planner, Geoff Wilkinson, says that Palmerston North is among many cities around the world (e.g. Melbourne, Wellington, Auckland, Copenhagen) that are being retrofitted to provide much more 'people-friendly' environments. "These cities understand that a city centre's role is much more than being just a 'business district', now city centres are the cultural and leisure hubs of cities," he said.

There are three goals to developing the City centre: the first is to create a pleasant 'sensory experience' by using the human senses, behaviour patterns, and movement as the starting point for design. The second is to build the City's centre as a destination and dramatically increase the amount of public life. And the final factor will be to cultivate an emotional attachment to the City centre. A focus on aesthetics, social offerings, and openness are the most important factors that will help to create these positive emotions.