News & Events

Innovative ‘tactical urbanism’ funding granted for five city projects

Thursday September 24 2020

Palmerston North has been granted more than half a million dollars from Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency from the Innovating Streets for People programme. The agency will fund 90 per cent of five projects that have a total cost of approximately $563,000.

The vision of the Innovating Streets for People programme is to make it easier to create safer, healthier and more people-friendly towns and cities, and support councils to do things differently by using tactical urbanism.

“We’re looking forward to working closely with our community on developing these projects,” says David Murphy, Palmerston North City Council Acting General Manager - Strategy and Planning.

“These projects are an opportunity to test a new approach to co-designing and trialling interventions with the community, to get local insight and feedback. For communities, it is a chance to be involved in co-creating street design changes.”

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency Urban Mobility Programme Manager Kathryn King says the Innovating Streets pilot fund supports quick, low-cost interim improvements that create more people-friendly spaces in our neighbourhoods.

“By using a tactical urbanism approach to test what works for communities, we can create attractive, vibrant places that make space for people and help to support local businesses. We’re pleased to support this project through the Innovating Streets pilot fund.”

The five approved projects are:

  • Main Street separated cycleway: This will trial create a safer and more comfortable priority cycle route from the city centre to the Longburn shared pathway. A separate cycleway will be trialled using temporary materials that can be reused for future trials.
  • Square Edge Placemaking: A series of trial placemaking and tactical urbanism improvements to retrofit the street design to better influence lingering and cycle movements.
  • George Street: Co-design with the business community a series of street closure events to test whether these increase foot traffic in George Street. This may take the form of a ‘kit’ and an easy process for businesses to close the street themselves.
  • Hokowhitu Village: Co-design with the business community a series of safety and placemaking improvements to reinforce the Village as a destination rather than a high-speed thoroughfare.
  • Ruha Street: A trial greenway treatment along Ruha Street to enhance the entrances to the Manawatū River to encourage walking and cycling to the river through a lower-speed road environment

Tactical urbanism is proven overseas, but it is not yet widely used in New Zealand.

“A tactical urbanism approach involves designing and user-testing with the community rather than for them. This results in a design generated as much by the community and collaborators, as it is by the designers,” says Murphy. “It involves implementing temporary ‘tactical demonstrations’ and ‘trial interventions’ to test versions of designs with communities. This testing focuses on delivering streets that put people first – making them safer and more liveable.”

Murphy says before this work begins, Council officers would work with users, businesses, residents, iwi and stakeholder groups to ensure the design is right.

“While our urban designers and transport engineers will play a big role in the design, we want solutions that suit the people that use them. It’s vital that residents get involved, and we get projects that benefit everyone. For many of the projects, the key factor will be to ensure we improve pedestrian and cycling access, while not compromising accessibility.”

Implementation and construction for these projects will occur over summer 2020-21. Data will be taken during the trials to report back to both Waka Kotahi and Council to determine if the projects were a success.