Whanganui is currently experiencing a construction boom, despite its classification earlier this year as a ‘zombie town’. The term, coined by Shamubeel Eaqub of the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research, describes small towns whose economies are struggling due to declining populations, and rationalisation of company operations. The exodus of people, particularly youth, conversely contributes to the expansion of urban centres such as Auckland and Christchurch.
The building boom in Whanganui has been attributed to (against trend) business expansion, as well as the need to upgrade existing premises (including earthquake strengthening).
Prominent developments include:
- $9.6 million Victoria retail centre between Victoria Avenue and St Hill Street.
- Construction of a new BP Connect service station on London Street.
- Open Country Dairy is constructing a new facility to double output from its milk powder plant – local businesses and suppliers have been preparing for the expansion, including advertising for additional staff.
Further, a site has been cleared for a Z service station on the intersection of London and Glasgow streets. The company has not yet confirmed its plans, despite having obtained the appropriate resource consents.
Although Auckland and Christchurch are to expect the lion’s share of the growth forecast for New Zealand’s construction industry, it is positive to see increased development in the regions – hopefully we will begin to see more of the same in other heartland towns.