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Community-driven street improvements become a reality in eastern Porirua

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Russell School children painting the wheel stops that are incorporated into the design.

A fusion of art, colour, plants, seats, picnic tables and road safety features appearing this month heralds the community-led transformation of Fantame Street in eastern Porirua.

The street improvements being tried out this winter are bringing to life ideas the community co-design group and Council have been working on together, to make Fantame’s streetscape safer and nicer for the community.

Front and centre will be some brightly painted wheel stops courtesy of Russell School students who are keen to see their neighbourhood look more colourful. Ideas from these tamariki and their whānau helped create the street design which will start taking shape as a new layout is installed during May.

The project was born out of long-standing community concerns about speeding cars, crashes and near misses, and the strong neighbourhood spirit around the heart of Fantame Street.

Porirua Mayor Anita Baker says last year Council tapped into the Innovating Streets funding available from Waka Kotahi NZ Transport for this project, called People Changing Streets – Fantame Neighbourhood.

“Council then worked with a group of Creek locals to co-design the changes so they would reflect what the community actually wants and needs,” says Mayor Baker.

“This co-design team has become known as the ‘Engineroom’ because of the huge amount of mahi they’ve put in over the past few months because they believe in community making good change in their neighbourhoods.

“The Engineroom has put in many hours debating street layout ideas, checking them with the community, helping facilitate community workshops and generally sharing their knowledge and passion for their neighbourhood.”

“Everyone wanted the streets to be safer – that was the easy part. What the team had to nut out was exactly how to change Fantame Street’s layout to be safer, in ways that also make the street look and feel like the special neighbourhood place it is. The Engineroom’s proposed design has started Fantame’s journey in the roughly right direction, and once the new features are in place it’s time for the community to try it out and see how it feels.”

Jacqui Edwards, a member of the Engineroom says it was a bit of a balancing act to get a ’roughly right’ mix that all the group members could stand behind.

“We had strong project goals that we all bought into, a finite budget to work with, and we debated long and hard to get to the roughly right design. The beauty of the People Changing Streets project is that once the initial improvements are in place, everybody can actually experience them, in the real street. Locals can give feedback from real personal experience, not pictures on paper, and the project can adjust the layout before anything’s made permanent.”

Installation of the improvements in Fantame Street begins on Sunday 9 May, work will be carried out during the day between 7am and 6pm with occasional night work. The work in Fantame Street is planned for completion by the end of May. Council will also be installing some basic safety improvements to slow traffic at the intersections where Castor Crescent and Fantame Street meet Warspite Ave during June.

“Once the improvements are in place in Fantame Street there’ll be a neighbourhood block party to celebrate the new look and to kick off the period of trying it out. Everyone should come down – for the party and during the following weeks – to experience how the improvements are working and tell us how you’re finding it,” says Jacqui.

Mayor Baker says it’s about community and Council together finding the optimal layout for Fantame.

“We will be looking to the community for initial feedback in June and July and considering that alongside our monitoring to see what will work best in reality.

“After that we will remain in contact with the Engineroom to ensure that ongoing feedback is received to make sure the layout works well.”

The Council’s People Changing Streets project is one of many collaborative street-improvement projects rolling out across the country, fuelled by 90 per cent funding from Waka Kotahi-NZ Transport Agency’s Innovating Streets For People programme.

Further information is available from poriruacity.govt.nz/fantame-street, by emailing PeopleChangingStreets@PoriruaCIty.govt.nz or at the Kāinga Ora Porirua Development Community Info Hub (26 Warspite Ave).

6 May 2021