Heart of Nelson Strategy

The vision of Heart of Nelson

The central city will be a vibrant, attractive place in which people can live, work and play, and in which businesses operate. It will reflect Nelson’s identity as a sunny, creative, outdoors, seaside city in a unique setting, with a long history of Maori and then European settlement. That history will be respected and nurtured. At the same time the city will be fun, innovative and forward-looking. The design of public places and buildings will be worthy of Nelson. They will reflect and respect our environment. Trees, verandahs and the design of buildings and places will enhance the enjoyment of Nelson’s outdoor lifestyle. Public art and inspiring design will show Nelson’s creativity.

The central city will be easy to access – on foot, by cycle, by public transport and by car. City Centre streets will be alive and bustling with pedestrians, outdoor cafes, activity and entertainment. The Nelson Market will remain iconic. It will be safe for all and easy for visitors to find their way around to discover Nelson’s treasures. More people living in or close to the City Centre will enliven it. The city will re-connect to the sea and the Maitai, and transitional areas around the City Centre will regenerate, creating new economic and business opportunities. The central city will remain – and thrive – as the commercial and cultural heart of the wider region.

While the central city will look and feel great, the key will always be “He Tangata, He Tangata, He Tangata” – It’s about people, people, people. The key goal is a place people want to be.

Strategy adopted September 2009

The Council in September 2009 adopted the final Heart of Nelson Strategy, also known as the Central City Strategy.  The Strategy sets a framework for developing the City Centre and the area surrounding it over the coming decades.  It includes 104 initiatives to improve the central city.  Design and other work to implement the first of these is already underway, and the necessary funding for all the strategy projects has been included in the Nelson Community Plan 2009-2019.

What changed between the draft and final versions

Over 170 public submissions were received on the draft Heart of Nelson Strategy released in December 2008.  These submissions along with other factors, such as recent Government cuts in funding for public transport and the Council decision to undertake an Arterial Route Study to look at the best roading connection between the Annesbrook and Haven/QEII Drive roundabouts, were considered and changes made to the Strategy.

It hasn't been possible to incorporate everyone's ideas completely - indeed some submissions are diametrically opposed.  But as Mayor Kerry Marshall says in his foreword to the Strategy, "the end product reflects a reasonable consensus without becoming diluted or pulled in all directions...I believe we have a sensible and affordable Strategy, but one that is visionary and aspirational." 

The main changes are summarised below.

Part 1 of the strategy is completely new

The old Part 1 was largely historical information and was moved to the appendix.

The new Part 1 seeks to better tie the whole strategy together and to set out clearer vision of what is being sought. It paints in words what the Strategy is seeking to achieve.  This is important to:

  • tie those actions into a cohesive whole
  • provide a rationale against which to test new proposals that will from time to time present themselves, and for developers, planners and others to understand the broader intent of the Strategy
  • be a touchstone against which to evaluate changes that might be needed e.g. if an action can no longer be done as proposed in the Strategy, then what are the guiding principles against which a revised action could be judged?

Objectives: these are new and reflect the importance of Identity (this theme came through strongly in submissions, at the hui and elsewhere).

Areas/Precincts: a picture is painted of the various areas or precincts within the central city and what is envisaged for each.

Part 2 is structured to follow the six objectives in Part 1

Part 2 (Part 3 in the draft Strategy) is structured to follow the six objectives in Part 1.  The allocation of action items to one or other heading is not absolute, as actions do not always fit neatly under one heading. 


All the actions that related to identity in the original draft were pulled together to reinforce and strengthen the theme of identity. Significant new identity-related actions have been added (A1-A.3 and A14-A.16).


A number of amenity initiatives also reinforce identity. 


Under connectivity all the linkage-type initiatives are grouped - from connecting to the Maitai and the sea, helping walking and cycling, 'legibility' and all the various initiatives relating to 'streets that equitably serve all users', and parking.  Transport and parking actions have been amended slightly to align with the final Regional Land Transport Strategy, the revised implementation of improved public transport and the planned Arterial Routes Study that this year will look at the preferred route between the Annesbrook and Haven/QEII roundabouts.


Activity includesthe actions that relate to vibrancy - from the economic and employment initiatives, to getting people to stay in the CBD longer, to more people living in or near the City Centre.


Has not changed significantly.


A new section.  It includes important initiatives relating to ensuring the Strategy is actioned.

Part 3 is reordered and amended

Additional explanations are added in key areas to help explain the response to submissions e.g. under B.4 - Upper Trafalgar St, and C.29 - Paru Paru Rd extension.

Part 3 includes a lot of useful information that could be very helpful to users of the document in the future. Users will be able to understand actions in the Strategy and why they were chosen. Part 3 need only be read if people are interested, the key information is in Part 2.


Originally Part 1 in the draft Strategy, the Appendix sets out why the strategy was needed, how it was prepared and the consultation process. Most of the information is historical and allows the user to go immediately into Part 1 the vision and substance of the document.

Download the Strategy

Copies of the Strategy can be downloaded here and can also be viewed at any Nelson Public Library and at Civic House (110 Trafalgar Street).

Download the Heart of Nelson Strategy (6.4MB PDF)

Supporting document

Nelson Central City Strategy:  Economic & Employment Opportunities Report

This document, by Derek Kemp of Prosperous Places Ltd, contains supporting information on which the economic and employment provisions of the Heart of Nelson Strategy are based.  It looks at Nelson's current economic strengths and weaknesses, projected demand for business land and space, proposes various central city business precincts, and potential business and visitor opportunities. 

Download the Economic and Employment Opportunities Report (887KB PDF).

Consulting firm involvement

Urbanismplus, led by renowned NZ urban designer Kobus Mentz, was retained to develop the strategy. The firm uses top Australian expertise and has previously been involved in creating urban development plans for Manukau City, Henderson (Waitakere), Porirua, Hamilton, Whangaparoa, Greater Christchurch, Shirley (Christchurch), Newmarket (Auckland) and Melbourne. They also produced guidelines for urban design for the Ministry of the Environment.


heart-of-nelson-strategy-0909.pdf (pdf, 6.4 MB)