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Bridge to Better – revitalising Nelson’s city centre: Nelson City Council

When it comes to Nelson’s city centre, what does ‘better’ look like for you?

An extended programme of community engagement is now underway for a major infrastructure project in the Inner City that will provide capacity for hundreds of city centre homes, build the resilience of Nelson’s three waters infrastructure, and revitalise Bridge Street.

Supported by $36.4M of funding from the Government’s Infrastructure Acceleration Fund, the Bridge to Better project has $32M funding from Nelson City Council already budgeted in the 2021-31 Long Term Plan. Council may need to consider bringing forward and refining existing budgets in the Long Term Plan 2024-34 to progress the work and to consider increased construction costs of up to $12 million.

Bridge to Better will involve:

Construction of a water supply ring main along Bridge Street, Rutherford Street, Halifax Street and Collingwood Street.
A new stormwater main along Bridge Street and Haven Road, associated green infrastructure to increase stormwater capacity, and a new flood gate at Saltwater Creek, which will reduce the impact of king tides at Wakatu carpark.
A wastewater pump station upgrade on Paru Paru Road and renewal/upgrade of Rutherford Street, Achilles Avenue and Bridge Street wastewater infrastructure.
Transformation of Bridge Street and Haven Road into a people-focused corridor, with more green places, more places to socialise, a more sustainable commercial environment and more transport choices.

To read our full media release, visit Our Nelson.

For more information or to give feedback, visit

Adapt and thrive: Chris Wilkinson’s retail blueprint

Chris Wilkinson from First Retail Group Limited is acting as a commercial liaison between Bridge Street businesses and Nelson City Council for the Bridge To Better project.

Chris Wilkinson’s first business was a huge success in an industry that was disrupted by digital technology, an experience that led to him setting up First Retail Group Limited – a business that helps other businesses evolve and adapt during periods of change.

“I launched my first 1-hour photo shop when I was 19 and soon built it into a successful chain. We got lucky and caught the eye of large international players in the sector and sold the business model to a supplier that expanded the concept, with his expertise on board, to the US.

“But as we all know digital camera and smartphones completed disrupted the photo processing market, and it ended up being my first lesson in what businesses need to do to prepare for the future.”

First Retail Group (FRG) was the product of that early experience and now works with consumer-facing sectors and destinations across Australasia and the Pacific Islands. They have also delivered projects in the US, UK and Dubai.

“We do a lot of work with Councils and business communities to help adapt to the impacts and benefits of change. In NZ we’ve worked from Invercargill to Kaitaia – and many places between, on projects to regenerate their city centres. The Queenstown upgrade was an outcome of strategic planning we provided. We’ve also been involved with projects in Dunedin, Lower Hutt and Ōtaki, providing strategy and resilience planning and management.

Chris says businesses all look for similar things when they are involved in a city upgrade that might prove disruptive.

“Businesses want accessibility, efficiency, profile and to be among complementary offers and experiences that help attract people to areas – regularly and habitually,” he says.

“You could describe what we provide as an independently-led, commercial guardianship model – something that is vital in to ensuring businesses are prepared for change and that all can benefit once work is complete. This work starts before the contracts are awarded, and continues throughout the works to ensure the project is as good a neighbour as it can be.”

Once Bridge To Better is completed, the area will be far more appealing to people. There will be more places for people to spend their time, more green spaces, traffic will be calmed and there will be more opportunities for outdoor dining and entertainment.

To read our full media release, visit Our Nelson.

Keep track of the Bridge to Better project at


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