A Chance to Reimagine the Thames CBD

New public space coming for Thames

Creating this people-friendly place will involve the temporary closure of Mary St at the intersection with Pollen Street for the half block running west to the service lanes towards Queen St. Access to the ANZ car park will be maintained from Mary St.

Improved road marking and signage at the Pollen and Queen St intersections will improve everyone’s safety around the new layout.

The length of the trial public space and the Mary St closure will depend on how the space is used, its effects on traffic flow and the feedback we receive on it. It is a pilot and we’ll be monitoring use of the space and how the street closure affects vehicle traffic.

We’re planning to leave it in place for two months and then will review how it’s working and make any changes in layout based on the review and the feedback.

Submit feedback on the trial space to customer.services@tcdc.govt.nz and put "Create the Vibe" in the subject line.

The materials being used for the public space are temporary and can be easily removed.

The new space will incorporate seating and tables, shade, greenery, lighting, bike racks, road art and designs from Thames artists on concrete planters. It will be ready in time to host the Thames Food and Buskers Festival on 5-6 March. See the artist’s impression below.

Other events coming up are the Beach Hop cruise to Thames on 25 March, the Steampunk Festival from 22-24 April, and the Solarpunk Aotearoa festival on 8-9 May.

The new public space, which is part of our range of Create the Vibe Thames activities to add vibrancy to the town centre, is 90 per cent funded ($320,125.50) by Waka Kotahi/NZ Transport Agency as part of its Innovating Streets pilot programme, with the remaining 10 per cent ($35,569.50) from Thames Community Board.

Click the image below to open a larger version:

Alternative Route Poster

A close up look at the new trial layout:

Click to expand.

Case studies of similar trial projects in other places

Auckland - High Street

Yarraville, Melbourne Pop up Park – Similar project of closing a Street and using astroturf

Lower Tory St, Wellington

Bondi Junction 'pop-up' initiatives - 60% of retailers increased business

Waka Kotahi has more case studies which you can view here – they are all local and part of the ‘Innovating Streets’ programme.

Public consultation on this project

Create the Vibe Thames HQ

People in Thames came out in their hundreds to the Create the Vibe – Thames HQ at the corner of Mary and Pollen streets in September to share their thoughts with Council staff on how this central part of town could be reimagined as a safer, more people friendly space that locals and visitors will want to spend time in and come back to again and again.

Our project HQ had 484 visitors over the two weeks from 7 to 19 September. In addition, our Create the Vibe – Thames survey had 272 responses. One respondent was drawn at random and contacted with the $50 Pak ‘n’ Save voucher prize.

In late September the project team visited a class at Parawai School and three classes at Moanataiari School for co-design workshops, to get some of the young people of Thames involved in the future shape of their town.

Moanataiari has asked to continue to be involved in the project on an ongoing basis as it aligns with their local and community curriculum streams, and provides a real-life example of how a project progresses.  Our Council staff are liaising with Moanataiari in the coming weeks around how to best facilitate this.

The thoughts and ideas from these events were distilled into two concept designs, option 1: Partially close Mary Street; and option 2: one-way part of Mary Street. Our team went back to the Create the Vibe – Thames container HQ in November 2020 and asked the people of Thames to vote on their preferred option. We also had an online survey available for general public to vote. Of 251 voters, 74 per cent preferred the partial closure design, while 26 per cent voted to keep Mary Street one-way vehicle traffic.

Consultation and engagement on this pilot space is ongoing as we seek feedback from the community on how it's working. Submit feedback on the trial space to customer.services@tcdc.govt.nz and put "Mary Street trial public space" in the subject line.

Create the Vibe logo

FAQ - Rolling out the changes 

Q: When will construction begin?
A: Monday 22 February 7pm, partially closing Mary Street for construction.

Q: Can I still drive down Mary St?
A: Yes, to access the Thames Civic Centre, Mobil Service Station, Thames Valley Insurance, Villager cafe, Computer Geeks & the ANZ carpark as Mary Street is only closed between the Villager café and Pollen Street. However, cars will not be able to access Pollen Street through Mary Street.(see map and detailed design above).

Q: What is Stage 1 and Stage 2?
A: Stage 1 will involve closing off Mary Street and about 70 per cent of the work will be completed including; AstroTurf, planters, the HQ container moved, modular seating, and new road lines. Stage 2 will begin in April, and we’ll be asking for help with pavement art and painting of the concrete planters.

Q: Can I get involved in this project?
A: Yes. We are seeking artists and community groups for painting. If you are interested, please get in touch with Hannah-Rose at hannah-rose.white@tcdc.govt.nz.

Q: Will there be any signage to help cars get onto our main street and town centre?
A: Yes, there will be new ‘Town Centre’ signage to help direct cars on our main street and adjacent streets.

Q: Will there be any evaluation and monitoring of this trial?
A: Yes, traffic and pedestrian counts will be carried out both before and after the changes are put in place in order to evaluate how traffic flow is affected and how people use the space. We will also have a link for the general public to give us feedback on the space.

Q: What is Thames Food and Buskers Festival?
A: This new local festival will feature gourmet food stalls, live music and entertainment for the whole family. Restaurateur, television host (Eat Well For Less on TVNZ) and food education advocate Ganesh Raj will also be presenting cooking masterclasses as part of the festival. The Thames Food and Buskers Festival is free to attend, except for the Ganesh Raj masterclasses, which will be ticketed. Tickets for these classes go on sale in February, with more details to come from the Thames Business Association, which is organising the festival in conjunction with Coromandel More FM and our Council.  Find out more here.

FAQ - Project background

Q: Who is funding this project?
A: Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is funding 90 per cent ($320,125.50), with the remaining 10 per cent ($35,569.50) from Thames Community Board.

Q: What consultation has been undertaken?
A: Nearly 500 people came into our Create the Vibe – Thames container HQ in September 2020 to have a chat with our staff about their ideas on how we can improve Thames town centre. We also held two co-design community workshops and visited two local schools.
The thoughts and ideas from these events were distilled into two concept designs. Our team went back to the Create the Vibe – Thames container HQ and asked the general public to vote on their preferred option. Of 251 voters, 74 per cent preferred the partial closure design, while 26 per cent voted to keep Mary Street one-way vehicle traffic.

Q: How long will this trial be for?
A: This will depend on public feedback and how well the space is used.

Q: What is Innovating streets?
A: Innovating Streets is a pilot programme is funding projects across New Zealand cities and towns aimed at creating people-friendly spaces.

Q: Why are the changes temporary installations?
A: This project is about working with the community and trialing positive changes to our streets. The improvements can be tested and refined before being made permanent if they’re found suitable. The benefit of have a temporary change is so we can adjust or take it away if it doesn’t work without spending millions of dollars on a permanent solution.

Book the Create the Vibe Thames container HQ for your community group!

The container HQ is available for community group use when it's not being used for Council purposes. The aim is to keep the space activated over the coming months.

Booking Form

User Guide

Murals in Thames

Thames Community Board has commissioned and paid for artist Erika Pearce to paint two murals. The first on the wall of Stirling Sports on Mary Street and the second on the wall of Baxters furniture shop facing Rotary Park next to Thames Library.

Mural on Mary St, Thames

Keep up to date:

Watch our Council’s website, subscribe to our enewsletters and like and follow us on Facebook to stay up to date with Create the Vibe – Thames.

The improvements to the Thames CBD as a result the Innovating Streets project, in terms of changing the street landscaping, that can be made permanent, can inform the Long Term Plan for 2021-2031 (LTP).

The LTP goes out for public consultation early in 2021 and that’s when more detailed planning, budgets and the effect on rates will be available for people to examine and give our Council feedback on.

Some background information:

The Thames+ Urban Development Strategy was drawn up in 2013 with the close involvement of the Thames community. A key finding of the strategy is that Thames currently lacks a "heart" - a space for community to gather, to hold events and invoke a sense of togetherness.

The Design Factory NZ at Wintec sent two groups of students to investigate the question 'How might the Thames CBD be reimagined into a safe, inviting and thriving area?' 

Both groups interviewed Council staff and elected members, people in the business community and residents and visitors. Both groups found that people think the Thames main street is "tired and unkempt" and "empty and outdated". 

One group advocated better lighting to make the CBD more attractive and the other suggested a "little big space" in the CBD where Council, business, youth and community could interact and collaborate. You can watch the students present their ideas on this video on the Design Factory NZ Facebook page: www.facebook.com/DesignFactoryNZ/videos/292717781910460 and you can download their final concepts on the right side of this page.