Thames is the regional capital for the Coromandel Peninsula sitting between the three fastest growing cities in New Zealand: Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga. Yet time has passed Thames by, it has become a place to pass through, rather than go to. While charming this is far from ideal with tough 21st century challenges ahead. The Thames+ urban strategy is structured into 3 bold new layers for transformation; the Green Strip, Weave of Movements, and Network of Catalysts, to extend, diversify and intensify Thames’ existing qualities and strengths. The strategy mixes new with old, living with shopping, learning with commercial and public facilities to provide a safe and lively Town Centre which prioritizes healthy walking and cycling. Equally critical is that this mix enables an integrated, sustainable and synergetic Town Centre to build a strong local economy together with robust growth of the visitor economy. To achieve all of this has not been easy and required indepth citizen and stakeholder engagement to inform tough strategic choices to optimize value and broad ranging benefits within tight resources. The focus has been on highly economic initiatives based on realistic, realizable projects. The key to optimization has been a synergetic approach which enabled us to achieve more with less. This idea led to Thames“+” our symbol for synergetic added value. By combining previously separate uses into new hybrids that are economically viable to bring significant value to the community, commercial activity and visitor offerings within tight budgets.
Green & Blue Necklace – the underlying amenity of Thames between the waterfront and Queen Street is to become the new recreational resource of the town with offerings from new swimming pool recreation facility, youth sport activity centre, upgraded water walk and cycle routes (including Hauraki Rail Trail), all along the edge of highway 25 yet very accessible for pedestrians. All together this “Necklace” can be optimized to work as an important strategic buffer for rising sea levels, tidal surge or Tsunami.
Weave of Movements (& infrastructures). Thames grid upgraded for the 21st century – not flying cars but enjoyable healthy walking and cycling with strategically located transport hubs for private and public transit to make all facilities accessible and enjoyable to use. A new hierarchy of street profiles have been designed and linked into three main transit hubs and public spaces: - Grahamstown (with transformed Placemakers site); Harbour (with transformed Grey Street Square); Civic Hub (with transformed Civic Square).
Network of Catalysts (focus areas) carefully selected to kick start the process in the short term while aligned to long term goals. Each catalyst will play a significant role like acupuncture across the whole town centre. The primary goal is to show that Thames+ is open for business. Also that it is open for new opportunities and ways of living and learning in a compact sustainable urban footprint. The essential ingredient is its compact walkable historic core based on the old townships of Grahams Town and Shortland. This means that with transformation through strategic intensification the town fabric can be optimized and attractive for medium density living, working, and learning environments, allowing many more people to live within walking distance from everything they need. This will help to drive a strong local economy, which in turn will also fuel a unique environment that is highly attractive to a growing visitor economy.