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Hastings city centre revitalisation earns top Local Government award

Toitoi Municipal Building medium

Described as “the very essence of successful placemaking”, the 10-year regeneration of Hastings city’s East Block, including the Toitoi Municipal Building restoration project, has earned a top award at this year’s Taituarā Excellence Awards.

The awards are an annual showcase of excellence within the local government sector, and 43 entries from councils across the country were submitted this year.

Last week’s win, announced at a gala dinner on June 8, was the second in a row for Hastings District Council in the Beca Award for Placemaking category, having taken out the inaugural category award in 2022 for the “It’s Flaxmere’s Time” initiative.

This year the award was gained for the “A Place for Everyone” project, centred on the restoration of the Hawke’s Bay Opera House and Municipal Building and linked to the goals of the 2013 Hastings City Centre Strategy and the projects identified in the 2019 Hastings City Centre Revitalisation Plan.

Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said these goals included strengthening the city centre’s identity, creating quality open spaces and connections, and creating more vibrancy and activity within the area – with the focus in the first five years of the Revitalisation Plan on the Eastern precinct of the city.

“The entire Toitoi redevelopment project, of which the Municipal Building was the last piece of the puzzle, was an integral part of this revitalisation strategy that also included creating a surrounding hospitality and entertainment precinct for eateries, galleries and boutique retail, and the creation of enhanced greenspaces such as Landmarks and Albert Squares, new amenity planting and outdoor dining areas with permanent umbrellas for shelter.

“We are so proud of what has been achieved to date and it is wonderful to have it recognised in this way.”

Throughout the project, community consultation was a priority with feedback sought and regular communication held with business partners, contractors and the community, including mana whenua and the arts, tourism and hospitality sectors.

This engagement was noted by the judges who said it was: "a significant project of scale that has retained the heritage building and provided a catalyst for further regeneration. The project built on a community connection to place and brought in mana whenua and local identities within the performing arts to further contribute to place memory. This is the very essence of successful placemaking."

Mrs Hazlehurst thanked the community who supported the redevelopment of the Opera House and Municipal Building, and who were consulted on the Revitalisation Plan projects.

“Ten years ago we began bringing the vision of our Hastings City Strategy to life with streetscape enhancements on the western end of the city, before turning attention to the eastern side.

“This area has become something our community can be really proud of and we look forward to further discussions with the community as we look ahead to implementing our strategy over the next 10 years.”

13 June 2023

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