The Council's Urban Development Leader, Cr Andy Foster, says the plan was well supported by over 60 submitters. "Newlands residents and business people and Council staff have worked very hard to put together an excellent plan. It looks at both the short term - one to five years - and the longer term, to 20 years.
"It's critical that our suburban centres work well. They are the hearts of our communities. Newlands has been the one centre that really didn't work because it's badly laid out, tired, lacking a cornerstone people attractor, and consequently has been vulnerable to competition from nearby Johnsonville.
"I was delighted three years ago when Councillors agreed with me that simply investing in the Community Centre wasn't going to make Newlands work. We had to look at the whole layout.
"The short-term plan is centred on Foodstuffs' proposed New World supermarket on the corner of Newlands Road and Bracken Road. It has been discussed at meetings with residents and local businesspeople, and now has resource consent. A road-stopping process is underway to allow its construction. The Council plans to use the money from the road-stopping and sale of the land to improve the McMillan Court car park arrangement and beautify the area.
"Pedestrian links will be improved through the area. New toilets will be built. Pedestrian safety and vehicle speeds in surrounding streets was also a priority coming through the consultation process, and we've picked that up."
Cr Foster says the upgrade of Council housing on Batchelor Street has also been brought forward. This will significantly improve the quality of the housing and there may also be opportunities for a public-private partnership to provide mixed housing right next to the shopping centre. It's important to have more people living close to community and retail facilities."
"In the longer term we expect that these improvements planned for the centre will kick-start further investment by landowners and tenants in the town centre. The Council will not be able to do everything on its own and private-sector investment to upgrade retail buildings and build additional housing will be needed. We are already aware of a number of proposed upgrades in addition to New World.
"We'll also be looking at improvements to nearby Newlands Park, such as a perimeter walkway, and the use of the old community house site and the Council will be progressing the development of of a comprehensive master plan for the local parks and reserves."