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Dunedin’s Proposed New CBD Makeover Revealed

Dunedin wants to become one of the “world’s great small cities”, and a redesigned central business district is a big part of that plan.

Replacing dilapidated underground infrastructure offers the chance to makeover the city’s CBD, a council report says.

Under the city’s premier shopping street, George St, lies a problem that is maybe out of sight, but not out of mind.

That includes 146-year-old storm water drains, drinking water mains that are 80 and 150 years old respectively, and a wastewater main that is damaged in parts.

Dunedin's new temporary layout on George St
HAMISH MCNEILLY/STUFFDunedin’s new temporary layout on George St

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The Dunedin City Council sought to upgrade below and above the street, and commissioned a series of reports last year.

The preliminary reports for the Central City Plan have now been released and will be discussed by the council on Monday morning.

Work to replace pipes would stretch along George St, from Moray Place in the south to Albany St in the north, and include new smart technologies that enable blockages to be detected.

But it is the proposed changes above ground that are expected to attract the most debate, particularly after the council was criticised for the temporary measures it has put in place to create more shared space along George St, in response to Covid-19.

Dunedin's George St in 2019.
STUFFDunedin’s George St in 2019.

A report from O3 Collective notes there is an opportunity for the city’s main street to become a destination ”that people want to spend time in and is a lively and active place to do business”.

The project will include wider footpaths, more seating, increased planting, reduced speed for motorists, and better access to car park buildings.

The preliminary report also notes the current streetscape is tired, has some vacant shops, and has limited night-time attraction.

While the current shopping area has convenient parking, other retailers missed out on potential cases of incidental spending by not having pedestrians walk past their shops.

A solution is to have more drop-off areas and services bays along George St, which currently has about 70 parks.

Could this be the future for Dunedin's George St?
DCC/SUPPLIEDCould this be the future for Dunedin’s George St?

The report notes there are about 3000 public parking spaces available within 500 metres of the retail quarter.

The proposal also recommends making George St a destination and not a ”through route”. It currently has about 8000 vehicles passing through it each day.

”George St in particular suffers from unnecessary vehicle congestion,” the report notes.

The two main shopping blocks from the Octagon North would be turned into a southbound one-way street, which would prioritise pedestrians, while the other two blocks would remain two-way.MORE FROM


Another report notes George St is popular with younger to middle-aged adults, but less so with youth and the elderly.

The area is also likely to receive bilingual signage and more public art.

In 2018, the council committed $60 million in its 10-year-budget for the redevelopment of the central city, of which $28m was set aside for George St.

The CBD makeover, which will involve four key streets, is part of making Dunedin one of the world’s great small cities.

The council voted 12 – 1 to endorse the project last year, with only Cr Lee Vandervis voting against it.

The Dunedin City Council's proposed makeover for the central city.
DCC/SUPPLIEDThe Dunedin City Council’s proposed makeover for the central city.

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Alina Xue
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