• Patrick McBride

Buller pedalling in the right direction

$1.86 million redevelop of the Westport waterfront announced.

Shane Jones today announced the first tranche of new projects to be funded from the PGF, including a waterfront redevelopment in Westport with a pedestrian and cycle bridge from the town centre to the riverfront.

Buller District Council framework was compiled with the basis of design for all elements relating to the revitalisation of Westport. The intention of the document was to give council some direction regarding how to best develop the town in the future to make use of landscapes and resources that already exist.

Buller mayor Jamie Cleine told McBride Vision he was pleased the funding had been accepted which will enable a long held desire of Westport residents to better engage with one of the districts best features, the Buller River.

"The funding will provide a pedestrian and cycle bridge from the CBD over rail and port land and allow for construction of terraced steps at the river edge. This will provide a link via town to both the Kawatiri river trails at north beach and the soon to be constructed Kawatiri Coastal trail to Carters Beach," he said.

The recent departure of Holcim and the demolition of their assets on the waterfront has, for the first time ever, meant that council can meaningfully consider options to turn the waterfront areas into public spaces that can be enjoyed by all those who reside and visit the area.

Council have been negotiating with KiwiRail for a lease over their land on the river front, and this has led to a Letter of Intent from KiwiRail that confirms their intention to lease the land to council, and the process by which a lease would be granted once a concept for the area has been agreed upon.

"It is another key step in the revitalisation of Westport and it’s great to be a part of the Council that delivers it," the mayor said.

Jones mentioned he has refocused the PGF with three clear objectives that will drive every decision from now on. "Jobs, timelines and visibility."

The PGF will continue with its tiered investment approach, with regional employment and skills programmes, investment alongside key regional firms and sectors and investment in enabling infrastructure. However, there has been a shift in the focus of the PGF’s criteria and additional weight and emphasis given to certain sectors.

“The PGF has already established an excellent track record of supporting the regional economies so is in a good place to take on this new approach,” Jones said.

“Our focus is on the next two to six months but projects that provide longer term economic benefits, support productivity and strengthen critical infrastructure in the surge regions will remain a priority for investment.

“I want to emphasise that the PGF will prioritise investment in sectors that are central to regional economies and will continue to be core to the economy through the rebuild phase,” Shane Jones said.