What will Nelson look like in 30 years? 50 years? 100 years?

What will future Nelsonians understand about us and what we valued? Will they see that we valued our people?

These are some of the questions the Nelson City Centre Spatial Plan (CCSP), gifted the name Te Ara ō Whakatū, hopes to answer. 

The plan, which will go out for consultation on 30 August pending approval from Council and COVID-19 alert levels, sets out a people-focused vision of a city centre that would attract investment, residents, talent, thriving businesses, families, and events.

It was developed with input from a team of architects and urban designers, targeted feedback from a variety of individuals and community groups, and embraces Te Aranga Māori Design Principles. 

Den Aitken, director of AitkenTaylor urban design and landscape architecture, says he wanted to build on what Nelson already has. 

“There is such a wonderful creative and artistic culture here, with great food, interesting art galleries, independent bookstores and shops, and an education hub through NMIT.

“We’re blessed to be surrounded by so much natural beauty, but when we’re not in those wonderful landscapes, there’s no reason why the Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 urban experience can’t be just as exciting.

“Our goal was to design spaces that would let people spend more time enjoying the wonderful things Nelson has to offer, to engage with one another and continue building on this unique community.”

A key aspect of the plan to facilitate these human interactions would be a network of linked up laneways—narrow streets and alleyways enabling city blocks to be broken down to create small-scale connections across the city. 

Keni-Duke Hetet of Waka Group Architecture and lead cultural designer for the plan shared his excitement around incorporating Māori culture and ways of thinking into the plan at different levels, especially the laneways.

“When you look at the laneways, infusing culture and artwork into the design will not only help beautify the city, but also represent mana whenua o Whakatū and whakapapa of local iwi, telling the story of the people who have lived here for a long time.

Keni-Duke Hetet

Keni-Duke Hetet

“Adding native trees to the streets and laneways to attract birds, and connecting these laneways to our awa, the Maitai River, will also protect and enhance Te Taiao, the earth and natural environment, of which our urban landscape is a part.

“It was also important to think intergenerationally when developing the plan.

“Creating a more resilient, beautiful, and healthy environment not only benefits us now, but also ensures our children and our grandchildren are looked after.”

At this stage, consultation is due to open on 30 August. Once open, head to the Shape Nelson website to view or make a submission on Te Ara ō Whakatū - Nelson City Centre Spatial Plan or request a copy from the Customer Service Centre or library. 

Submissions will close 24 September 2021.