Downtown Blenheim’s new park was officially declared open last week with the open space put to immediate use as the venue for the pre-Christmas Farmers’ Market.
Mayor Alistair Sowman declared the park open with guest of honour Liz Davidson, the former mayor after whom the park has been named while CBD councillor Terry Sloan gave a vote of thanks to all those involved in getting the project completed before Christmas.
The park has been designed to create a link through to Market Square, opening up a larger venue for street markets. The paving, stage area, lighting and landscaping has been designed for downtown events and entertainment while planter boxes, street trees and grassed areas soften the brick and block paving.
The new open space was one of the recommendations to emerge from the Urban Design Strategy, a major consultation and planning exercise led by the Council in 2009 involving hundreds of members of the public.
The Urban Design Strategy seeks to improve the town as a play to shop, work and meet – with changes aimed at making the town more ‘walkable’ and improving traffic flows.
One of the proposals was for a new library and art gallery in Queen Street which would give direct connection through to Market Street and a better use of open spaces in the town centre – an idea which the Council says will have to the subject of more public discussion next year.
Mayor Alistair Sowman says the entire Strategy was never going to happen overnight but, as funding allowed, changes would happen. Some of the street lighting and tree planting has begun and now one of the components of the Strategy, the open space for Queen Street, has been completed.
“It’s going to take time but this was always going to be a vision for the long term future of the town centre.
We can’t do it overnight and we can’t do it alone. We also want commercial property owners to look at the Urban Design Strategy and use it to guide future development,” he said.