The Council anticipates that the total population will grow by 16% in the next 10 years. With a current total population of just over 2000, the local primary school, Brightwater Primary School, makes up a significant percentage of the population at 300 students. Following a period of discovery work that included background studies with our transport planning team and archaeologists, we ran a workshop with a group of Year 5 and 6 students at the school to capture their ideas on what is most important to them as the future generation.
With our client Tasman District Council, we undertook community consultation on the upgrade of the main street in Brightwater. The challenge for the project was to successfully consult, connect and engage with the community to develop a solution that was loved by the community now, and for generations to come. Recognising that the local Brightwater Primary School was a central part of the community, an idea was formed to run a workshop with the students to understand their needs.
A group of Year Five and Six students participated in the workshop, to learn what was important to the future generation of residents. Alongside background studies with our transport planning team and archaeologists, the workshop resulted in a concept for the main street upgrade that was strongly supported by the community and fully endorsed by the elected council.
We invited the students at Brightwater Primary School to remake their main street with Lego and to present their ideas at the end of the workshop. The ideas presented by the students, highlighted significant issues and great opportunities for the main street upgrade. On the lighter side, the students suggested a drive-through sweet shop and a tree hut in the local park. On a more serious side, we were able to gain insight into their need for more road safety.
In talking about their experience in getting to school, they asked for better quality pavements, more weather resistant bus shelters, safer crossings and the need for traffic to slow down. The students also considered the needs of others in their community, including the access for disabled mobility and the elderly. Safe access to bike facilities was also a key theme which, given that the region has spectacular cycle trails and mountain bike facilities, means this is a significant part of the local identity.
The workshop also provided an insight into a local urban legend. In the 1800s, there were five street lights in the main street which were wired through a chicken perch. When the chickens came home to roost at night, the perch dropped down and flicked the switch to turn the lights on. When they got off the perch in the morning, the switch would turn the lights off. So popular is this story that a motif of a chicken is being incorporated into the streetscape and a concept has been worked up for perching seats along the road; if someone sits on the seat, lights will come on. Incorporating these elements and empowering the community to lead projects fosters a strong sense of ownership that celebrates local culture.
The insights gained through the student workshop helped craft the vision and principles to be used in the next stage of the project. The workshop also helped to change the assumptions of the project team, where it had been assumed the children would be focused solely on fun activities, what they ended up with was a need for better safety around transport.
Brightwater School Deputy Principal Glenda Earle said students were able to look at things from a different perspective without any preconceptions. “To get the student voice coming through and getting some ideas from the kids as to what can happen with Brightwater is really cool, it gives the kids a purpose. To think that maybe, hopefully some of their ideas might actually get put in place would even be a bonus.”
Alongside the success of the workshop, there was an excellent turn out at the public open day with many parents inspired to come along to see their children’s ideas. The concept for the main street was strongly supported by the community and fully endorsed by the elected council.