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Tweak of design mooted

GIANINA SCHWANECKE
gianina.schwanecke@age.co.nz

Contentious town centre revamp plans that would have cost 20 car parks in Masterton’s Bruce St seem likely to be tweaked after an outcry from businesses in the area.

The Town Centre Reference Group, which consists of community representatives, Masterton District Council staff and elected members, met behind closed doors on Tuesday to discuss what recommendation on the plans should go to the June 26 council meeting.

Councillors were tight-lipped about the final result of the meeting recommendation would be, but Cr Bex Johnson assured business owners that their concerns had been listened to.

“I know the businesses felt they haven’t been listened to, but they have been,” she said.

The meeting had gone well and a good result had been achieved, she said.

“We want to stimulate and encourage their business, not put up roadblocks. We have a responsibility to rework the designs and I’m sure that will happen.”

The group’s chairman, Cr Jonathan Hooker, declined to comment.

New World supermarket owner Clive Webber last week called the plan a “bullet in the head” for his business, as well as Entice Cafe and Catering and Aratoi.

An open email from Webber to businesses and councillors objecting to the plans, attracted strong support.

Jennie Smith and Alice Buchanan, of Entice said the area was already short of car parking.

“Eighteen months ago, there was a survey of car parking done in our area of town and it was clear we needed more car parking, not less,” said Smith.

She said the parking spaces that could be lost from outside Entice were important for accessibility and for customers in a hurry.

“We have a lot of elderly customers who won’t walk any distance to come here, and we also have lots of customers who pull into our parking and dash in for a takeaway coffee and food.

“These people will all go elsewhere if we lose these six car parks,” she said.