Wagga City Council wants to see a vibrant city centre and it is developing policies to attract both shoppers and stores to the CBD.
Wagga's CBD has been hit with the closure of national chain stores over the past 12 months as well as smaller number of regional small businesses, leading some residents to questions the health of the city's economy.
Council manager of city strategy Tristan Kell said the "health of the city is determined by the heart of the city".
"The high street is essentially one of the most important arteries of any city and we have a very long artery being Baylis and Fitzmaurice streets," he said.
"Council had a vision 20 to 30 years ago to make that an attractive main street and we have spent a lot of money on that.
"We have done the right things in terms of amenity but the challenge with the main street is that it's very long and to service a catchment the size of Wagga is always going to be a challenge."
Mr Kell said the council was working with businesses to "get out of the way a little bit" and support short-term leases and pop-up locations.
"Last weekend we had the Mardi Gras, which brought 10,000 people to the main street; every shop that was open would have been teeming," he said.
"We need to encourage as much activity as possible, so that includes more events in the warmer months and making the CBD an attractive place during the winter.
"It also means encouraging higher density development around the CBD."
The council's planning changes that allow higher-density living in central Wagga have started to prompt objections from some residents as their neighbours take advantage of provisions made eight years ago.
A development application for an above-ground garage on a house near Wollundry Lagoon drew a public gallery of objectors when it was brought to a council meeting in January.
Mr Kell said the council would work with residents to achieve higher density living with high-quality designs that preserve amenity.
"It's important that council consult with the community and let them know that this type of development will occur in the future," he said.
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