Hamilton East (Te Nihinihi*), land use

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*Hamilton East – ‘This land, known to the ancient ancestors of Ngati Wairere as Te Nihinihi’ (Wiremu Puke, in Barry Lafferty, Hamilton East: Foundation for a Future City (p.4), ISBN 9780473496265)

At the time William Graham set out Hamilton East, the main means of transportation within a town was by foot. New towns were not designed to separate work from home by more than a few hundred metres. Up to the 1960s (Town and Country Planning No.38 March 1962) ‘if you owned some land you could do what you liked with it. You could build a house, a factory, a shop, and it was nobody’s business but your own’. Hamilton East is an example of none arduous zoning on the location of work places. The area between Bridge St and Clyde St was mainly an employment area; now it is being repurposed as a mixed living/working area.

Thomas Slade owned one acre (0.4 hectare) on Grey St. [Bridge St.] Corner, where he established a blacksmiths and carriage building business in 1885.”Barry Lafferty, Hamilton East: Foundation for a Future City (p. 67)
photo from Hamilton Library photo HCL_08330

This healthy repurposing can also been seen with the Berlei/Bendon factory on the corner of Grey and Cook, now a mix of office and retail; and there is no reason apartments could not be added to the mix of uses. The Ammunition factory at the other corner of Hamilton East was converted to a Ministry of Works office. Now the area is a mix of housing and the Opus yard off Fox street.

‘Hamilton East is a genuine mixed use suburb that works well. It is economically successful with a loyal and long-standing commercial and residential base that is committed to a positive future for the neighbourhood. It is a destination in itself and a connector for the central city. Given this solid platform, enhancing Hamilton East is about working to its strengths’ Hamilton East Neighbourhood Plan, page 4.

All along Grey Street you can see business mixed with residential; there are dwellings repurposed to businesses and businesses/offices being repurposed to dwellings. This is what gives Hamilton East a long-lasting resilience; when demand for business contracts, buildings get repurposed into dwellings, but as more people move in, business expands to support this population increase. This is the beating heart of a town centre. This is what European towns have been doing for centuries; zoning should allow change, without allowing the concentration of nuisance activities that make living unhealthy.

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