A Chance to Reimagine the Thames CBD

Create the Vibe Thames HQ

(Photo: Our Create the Vibe Thames co-design HQ was open from 7-19 September for people to share their thoughs on how to improve the Mary/Pollen streets area)

We have an opportunity to reimagine what the central area of Thames around the intersection of Pollen and Mary streets could look and feel like thanks to funding from Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency.

Beyond the general goal of creating a people friendly public space in the heart of town that will keep residents and visitors coming back for more, what any changes look like is up to the people of Thames.

Watch this video for some ideas on what could be done:

Thank you Thames!

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.

Fifty-nine people filled in our contact form to be kept up to date with project news. Others were keen to pop by regularly to see “what’s happening”.

The results of this “co-design” engagement are on display in the HQ windows as word clouds.

All the ideas we’ve collected will then be refined into several design options for the Mary/Pollen streets area and will be available for community feedback at the HQ the week of 16-21 November.

The project, which is part of a range of projects for Thames we're calling Create the Vibe – Thames, has received 90 per cent funding ($320,125.50) from Waka Kotahi. The remaining 10 per cent ($35,569.50) is coming from Thames Community Board budgets. It’s part of Waka Kotahi’s Innovating Streets pilot programme, which is funding projects across New Zealand cities and towns aimed at creating people-friendly spaces.

Create the Vibe logo

The projects are to involve cost effective, temporary interventions that the community has a large role in helping to design. The improvements can be tested and refined before being made more permanent if they’re found suitable.

Physical work to put in place the chosen design option will begin early next year and be completed by early March.

“We want to encourage locals and visitors to stay longer and be safe and comfortable in the centre of Thames,” says Thames Community Board Chair Strat Peters. “Waka Kotahi is providing us with the opportunity to try some new things to create a real vibrant civic heart in town that will support local businesses and encourage social interaction, at very little cost to Thames ratepayers.”

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.

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

“Community champions” have been invited to two co-design workshops (15 October and 5 November) where they will reflect on the community engagement to date, prioritise, and contribute to the design options.

This map of central Thames and the images of Pollen and Mary streets will show you the area we're working in:

Thames War Memorial Civic Centre

(Photo: Thames War Memorial Civic Centre, on Mary Street - could this space be converted to a vibrant town centre plaza?)

Crossing Pollen Street

Mural on Mary Street on Stirling Sports is looking good!

Thames Community Board has commissioned and paid for artist Erika Pearce to paint the mural on the wall of Stirling Sports on Mary Street. It's looking great! She'll paint another one soon on the wall of Baxters furniture shop facing Rotary Park next to Thames Library.

Mary Street mural

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.

“We have an opportunity to revitalise the CBD area through the creation of a functional, vibrant, centrally located public place alongside a vibrant Pollen Street,”says Erin Bates, our Council’s District Placemaking and Thames Area Manager.

Other work on the go:

  • Public space "activation": we're looking at zero or very low cost options about how our existing public spaces in the Thames CBD can be better utilised as safe gathering places for people of all ages, whether for planned events or to relax for a while.
  • Murals for the Baxters Furniture wall next to Rotary Park (outside Thames Library) and Stirling Sports' Mary Street wall.
  • Temporary art installations – a project the Thames Public Art Trust is leading.
  • Bringing the Hauraki Rail Trail into the CBD.
  • We're also working on getting the zoning right in the corridor from Thames down to Kopu and beyond to Puriri so that we have options around housing and commercial development. This is the Thames Spatial Plan work.

“We’d love to hear from people who have ideas about how to make the town centre active and buzzing,” says Ms Bates.

Drop her a line at erin.bates@tcdc.govt.nz with your thoughts.