Hamilton’s bold plan to transform into a more vibrant, prosperous city centre builds on what has worked around the world. Along with many other cities, the decline of Hamilton’s central city began in the 1970s. Easier access to cars, the rise of suburban centres with indoor malls and free parking has eroded many central city areas in New Zealand and globally.
Replicating the suburban shopping formula and attempting to compete with surburban malls has been regarded as a failure world wide.
Providing more parking, new physical works and supporting events provide part of the solution but are not enough on their own. Cities that have successfully revived or transformed their central cities have recognised the importance of having a clear and distinct identity.
A significant decision outlined in the Plan is to reduce the size of the business district in its current form – and instead to have three distinct ‘precincts’. This is based on the principle that a central city needs a concentration of people and commercial activity to prosper. Cities that have been successful in transformation and revitalisation have reduced the size of their central city and concentrated activities into well-defined areas with their own identity and character.
Hamilton’s central city footprint is currently significantly larger when compared with cities of a similar size. It is bigger than the new central city area planned for Christchurch.
The three precincts will be