Hutt at Heart

Breathing new life into the heart of our city

A plan is underway to breathe new life into the heart of Lower Hutt.

For a long time residents, community organisations and the business sector have been clear they want to see a re-energised city centre that’s better connected to Te Awa Kairangi (the Hutt River).

We’ve had a team working on this, led by our Urban Design Manager Paki Maaka and including urban planners, economists, infrastructure experts and local and regional stakeholders. We’ve built on 30 years of formal planning and community engagement to come up with a comprehensive strategy to make that vision a reality – it’s called the Central City Transformation Plan. It aims to create a dynamic 24-hour city, home to a network of laneways featuring boutique bars, cafés and niche shops – a cosmopolitan centre drawing in visitors from around the region and beyond.

It all centres around the RiverLink Project, which will see improved flood protection and transport links, and the development of a riverside promenade lined with shops, cafés and apartments (pictured above). Urban economist Mike Cullen, who’s part of the team, describes RiverLink as the ‘switch‘ that will turn on the central city’s economy after years of under-performance. That means making it a place people want to live and visit – ‘a place to do stuff rather than buy stuff’.

The Hutt Valley Chamber of Commerce is among those backing the plan. Helen Down from the chamber says as well as improving the quality of life for residents, it has the potential to lure new businesses and more visitors. And a healthier and more active environment will help businesses recruit and retain staff.

“The chamber’s working and lobbying hard with businesses and stakeholders to make this happen and make it happen as soon as possible. The momentum for change is already starting to build – we now need to remove the barriers to that change and get on with it.”

The Plan would gradually concentrate retail activity into a pedestrian-friendly area between Dudley and Margaret streets, and Queens Drive and Laings Road. It would also bring Alicetown and Melling into the central city’s redesign, connected via a pedestrian and cycle bridge. It also recommends creating a clear route between Ewen and Melling bridges along Queens Drive to make it easier to get around the city, especially for visitors.

To view the CCTP, go to

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