Johnson Corner

Liam Hodgetts from New Plymouth District Council is using Johnson Corner to support and enable his Strategy team  

Liam Hodgetts is the GM of Strategy at NPDC
Photo credit: Dom Prestidge

Johnson Corner sat down with Liam Hodgetts, the GM of Strategy at New Plymouth District Council, to discuss how the Council supports and enables a prosperous and successful district and city.

Can you tell us a little bit about your role at NPDC?

I lead the Strategy Group at NPDC, which consist of a lot of thinkers and policy people. In planning for the District and City, we provide for integrate policy outcomes, considering the Social, Economic, Cultural and Environmental Dimensions.  It’s a diverse team covering many challenging issues from city growth to running the democratic processes for the Council. 

How does Johnson Corner workspace factor into strategic direction? 

I encourage my leaders to be flexible in how they work, take time out to plan and think. Johnson Corner provides that opportunity. I also like the idea that my leaders are meeting different thinkers, entrepreneurs, and understanding the challenges and opportunities they experience. I think it helps contextualise their world and hopefully, develop better plans and policies.  

The majority of our members did not work in our neighbourhood before joining Johnson Corner, bringing more activity and spending to local restaurants and shops. Why is increasing business activity in our city important? 

From an Urban Design point of view, I love the fact that Johnson Corner can activate the street, where people on the street can see the activity inside and vice-versa. It creates interest and edge. Retail is facing some challenging times so to see the re-use of traditional ground-floor retail space as a modern flexible office and event space is exactly what urban regeneration is all about. The success of our city will be determined by how diverse it can become. 

According to the UN World Urbanization Project, roughly 70% of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050. What can we do to attract living, working and engaging in the cities?

It’s all about diversity and creating an environment that can accommodate all walks of life. NPDC’s job is to make sure the urban environment is as attractive, safe and welcoming as it can be and that’s through how we plan, develop and maintain our public spaces. Lately, we have put some resources behind the programming of these public spaces, to draw more people into the city, support commercial activity and remind people that the CBD is a place for everyone.

Johnson Corner is driving business innovation and growth, how critical innovation and growth culture is to a city’s economic prosperity? 

The world is facing rapid change particularly in how we work with technology. Every cycle of change seems to be more compressed and faster each time. I believe with this change people are becoming more mobile. Some are able to choose how they work and live with lifestyle in mind.

For places like New Plymouth, we have an opportunity to provide this sweet spot, where working and living strikes a perfect balance. Social and economic infrastructure like Johnson Corner supports the innovators and entrepreneurs who choose to pursue this balance.  

 

The other thing we have to remember is from those little things, big things grow. Any environment that fosters growth from an economic and business perspective is an essential part of the ecosystem of any modern city. 

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