Innovating Streets

What is Innovating Streets?

Innovating Streets is a Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency programme with the vision of making it easier to create safer, healthier and more people friendly towns and cities. The programme provides funding for councils to do things differently by bringing in quick, low-cost, scalable improvements that help to create more vibrant, people-friendly spaces in our neighbourhoods.

Council pilot projects follow a process known as tactical urbanism, which is about learning through doing. It allows councils to work with communities in a co-design process, which involves setting up an initial installation for the community to experience; gathering feedback in real-time; and making adaptions accordingly throughout the pilot period.

This tactical urbanism approach gives communities the chance to be involved in co-creating street design changes. It’s agile and focused on learning through doing.  Sometimes things may not work as expected but that’s the point of the test!

Tactical urbanism is proven overseas but it is not yet being widely used in New Zealand. The Innovating Streets fund will help kickstart projects across the country and raise the capability of our experts to deliver these types of projects in the future.

For more information about the programme, see Waka Kotahi’s website

What will the installation look like?

The concept design of the Innovating Streets installation is available here. There will be designs painted on the road as shown in the survey, with wooden structures with seating surrounded by decorative plants and artefacts. Ongoing feedback will be translated in to modifications to the structure and design, as part of co-design principles.

Innovating Streets Martinborough: Rendering of Installation and ArtworkClick for larger image

Where did the idea for the Innovating Streets pilot in Martinborough come from?

Back in 2019/2020, the idea to pedestrianise the Square end of Kitchener Street was presented to Council by a group of local businesses through the Martinborough Business Association and Community Board.

It was clear the proposal wasn’t going to benefit all businesses and following initial, theoretical discussions with Waka Kotahi, they advised Council of the Innovating Streets Programme, which provides funding for street installation trials to gain real-time feedback from the community. The application was reported to the Assets and Services Committee in June 2020.

Note that, there are no plans to pedestrianise Kitchener Street as part of this project. Council maintains an open mind on what the long-term outcome of the pilot will be.

What was the decision-making process to go ahead with the pilot?

The matter was discussed at length with Waka Kotahi NZTA, Boffa Miskell, the community, Councillors, Martinborough Community Board and the Māori Standing Committee as well as Council staff. It was an operational decision made by the Chief Executive.

How much is the project costing?

Funding of $180K was initially available from Waka Kotahi. Approximately $154K to implement the project is being provided while SWDC is contributing approximately $17K (10 percent of the total project cost). The Waka Kotahi funds are not available for Council to use for any other purpose other than the Innovating Streets pilot; this means it’s not possible to re-allocate it to work Council would consider to be higher priority

What are the aims of the pilot?

To spark discussion and inspire open dialogue about alternative uses for public spaces. Create a safe and attractive environment for pedestrians. Create a more people-focused and non-vehicular traffic environment. Improve connectivity for residents to, through, and beyond the Square. Improve safety by slowing traffic around the Square Retrieve and collate feedback for decision making around a permanent installation.

What communication and engagement has taken place to date?

March 2020 & May 2020 – Presentation to Assets and Services Committee.  Minutes sent to Councillors, Martinborough Community Board, Māori Standing Committee.

September – October 2020 – Council initially announced the funding win by media release on 22 September 2020 (see media release and in the October issue of Community Focus, which was mailed or emailed to all ratepayers. The email address innovating.streets@swdc.govt.nz was established at this time to respond to questions while the project team was being established.

February 2021 – Following the appointment of Boffa Miskell as the urban designers on the project, Council partnered with them to run community workshops on 2 and 25 February to introduce the concept and gain feedback. The two workshops were aimed at businesses (local businesses, the Martinborough Business Association and members, and the Martinborough Community Board were invited) and the general public, respectively. These workshops were well-attended and constructive, with feedback resulting in the pilot site being moved from the northern side of the road (outside Martinborough Hotel and Cool Change) to the opposite side, alongside the northern end of the Square. A media release was put out on 4 February and the Council’s website updated. On 12 February posters were put around the Square showing the background, context and concept as perspectives and sketch plan – ‘Artist’s impression’ type images, with timeframe, contact details for more information. A community pop-up event took place on 19 February to raise awareness of the upcoming project and encourage discussion with passers-by. Another public workshop took place at the Waihinga Centre on 25 Feb.

To gain wider community feedback on the concept and establish needs, in terms of what should change, what shouldn’t and to identify any unintended impacts, Council carried out a 4-week online survey, from 17 Feb to 12 Mar, which received approximately 158 responses. Please see the concept survey results here.

March 2021 – Designs were displayed at the Square for public feedback between 10am and 4pm on 5 March. The website was updated about the survey on 12 March, with interim results displayed.  A popup event was also held on the same day at the Square between 11am and 3pm. The feedback received was predominantly positive, with some respondents raising concerns or feeling the project wasn’t needed. Generally speaking, people were in favour of ideas like kerb buildouts and a pocket park. Further workshops and discussions involved the Waka Kotahi Innovating Streets Team and Boffa Miskell design experts working with Council staff analysing data and feedback and resulted in the finalisation of the location, design elements and approach for the pilot.

Since February 2021 project updates have been published in:

  • Monthly updates in the Wairarapa Times Age, Wairarapa Midweek, Martinborough Star
  • Regular website and Facebook posts and updates
  • Posters displayed around town
  • Survey, conducted to select the preferred design
  • Email updates to councillors, Māori Standing Committee and community board members

Media Releases and Updates Published:

Who came up with the road design?

Council staff and the designers agreed the ratepayers of the future needed a voice. Local school children were invited to participate and came up with the art designs – the colour, shape, line and pattern ideas for each of the final three designs. The Mountains, Rivers, Dark Sky/ Stars, and Ocean- which can be found taking the roads leading from the square were all inspired by their work.

Local artist collective Ventana worked with the school kids and took their ideas to Martinborough based artist Andy Shaw.  Andy drew inspiration from the kids’ artwork to create the final three designs.

The final winning design was chosen by the community through an online and physical vote in June 2021. 

What about consultation? How can you have your say?

Love it or hate it, we want you to have your say, as this is a co-design process with the community. To this end, Council will be running consultation while the installation is in place. It’s important that people experience the space before providing their feedback. This is the whole point of the tactical urbanism approach, and the pilot. Community feedback will be gathered during the pilot in real-time with adaptations made along the way and tested further. What you think might not work well, might surprise you, and vice versa.

The initial survey to give your feedback will launch a few weeks after the Innovating Streets installation opens. You will be able to pick up copies of the survey from Council offices, the library, or complete it online (one response per person). Survey responses will also be collected during other events held during the period. If a significant change is made during the pilot, feedback will be gathered via subsequent surveys.

Note that survey responses will be analysed alongside data gathered by Boffa Miskell on how people interact with the space. Together, this information will determine the outcome of the pilot.

How long will the pilot run?

Weather-dependent, the pilot will run with the installation in place from the end of July for 8-12 weeks.

The installation may change during this period based on feedback, be removed at the end of the period, or continue to exist in a different form or different location.

As a pilot employing a co-design process, Council isn’t predetermining the outcome.

We are taking this as a learning experience, on the design engineering process, and on what, if anything, could be created to improve the enjoyment and safety of the space.

What are the impacts of the installation in terms of access and parking spaces?

The installation will reduce the number of parking spaces alongside the square, opposite Martinborough Hotel and Cool Change and by seven spaces, leaving more than 60 spaces around the Square. There is also ample parking down the wide side streets around Martinborough.

The seven spaces will instead be available for pedestrians to enjoy. 

Will the installation and road paint affect road safety?

Road safety experts at Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency approved the design to be safe and it was decided the road paint could be implemented as proposed without safety concerns.

Please see Waka Kotahi’s Tactical Urbanism Handbook for more information on what is allowed on NZ streets.

Can cars still drive around the square?

Yes, the installation will not change the ability of vehicles to drive around the Square or nearby streets.  The design will only occupy the car parks along the northern edge of the Square. No streets will be fully pedestrianised.

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