Opus architecture’s concept design of the proposed Church St upgrade. Photo: Supplied.

Church St set for makeover

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Nelson’s Church St is set to become a social dining hub with construction earmarked to start in April 2018 at a cost of $575,000.

Nelson City Council’s works and infrastructure committee have unanimously agreed to move forward with detailed design and construction of transforming the street into a one-way pedestrian-oriented environment.

In June last year, Church St business owners and landowners approached council with a view of working together to improve the key inner city laneway, which is home to Kush Coffee, East St Cafe and Nicola’s Cantina.

A report to council last month said the project would “develop the character of the street, forming a better connection between city hubs and improving the walkability and permeability of the city.”

Pedestrians will have priority over vehicles with one-way traffic flow for the full length of the street, from Hardy St to Selwyn Pl at 10km/hr. It will still retain a two way cycle flow.

Church St property owners and businesses will also be able to “put their own stamp” on the street, but will still be responsible for leasing outdoor areas and providing appropriate street furniture.

There will also be an opportunity to close the street on a temporary basis for a diverse range of festivals, markets, activities and events.

As well as an increased outdoor dining space, wider paths and more vegetation are planned – but the $50,000 overhead catenary lighting, which was shown in the concept design, was not included as it did not fit into the project’s budget.

Several councillors and mayor Rachel Reese questioned the move at the March 30 meeting, saying that lighting was “important for the city.”

“I would hope that, as officers work through the process, the businesses and owners are prepared to make some financial contribution there. It may mean some adjustment to the other items to allow this to go through,” she said.

Council will now consult with Church St businesses on the lighting as well as seek feedback from the wider public.