Tauranga City Council commissioners will be considering a number of significant matters in their second Council meeting on Monday (8 March).
- a public workshop to advance the preparation of the draft 2021-31 Long-term Plan (LTP)
- a proposal to challenge and refresh the civic precinct masterplan, with a view to initiating its first phase – construction of a community space and library facility (and enhanced public amenities in the surrounding area), with planning and design to start before the end of 2021
- approval to negotiate a leased interim office facility which will bring most staff together in a single city centre location
- approval to demolish the existing Willow Street administration building, customer service centre and library.
Chief Executive Marty Grenfell said the civic precinct concept has been six years in the making and its refresh would prioritise some key projects for the civic heart of the city. “Its intent is not only to create a much-needed and long-awaited community-focused facility, but to help reactivate the city centre and stimulate future private development investment.”
If approved, the project would be included in the draft LTP and commence with a streamlined refresh and challenge process of the existing precinct masterplan, which was approved in principle in 2018 and has been the subject of previous community engagement. Main features of the phase one of the proposal are:
- planning and development of a community facility, including public meeting spaces, library and relaxation, innovation and discovery spaces – at an estimated cost of $47 million (including fit-out)
- the development of welcoming and attractive community spaces in adjacent civic plaza and Masonic Park areas – $11 million
- demolition of the current Willow Street civic building – $3 million.
The report acknowledges Ngāi Tamarawaho’s mana whenua over the wider Te Papa area and special interest in two lots within the precinct area, which is bounded by Willow, Wharf, Durham and Hamilton Streets. The hapū is considered to be a key partner in the proposed development, with a special engagement process to be undertaken ahead of any final decision.
Meanwhile, the Commission will also consider a proposal to negotiate a new lease arrangement with a third party to co-locate council administration staff in another city centre location. Most council staff are currently housed in three locations and Mr Grenfell said a single administration building would deliver efficiency benefits exceeding $1 million a year and enhance the sustainability of the council’s operations.
“Effectively, this would also activate and reinvigorate another part of the CBD and help to deliver on the community’s expectations for a thriving city centre,” he said.
If approved, the lease option for the administration building decision will be subject to a formal community consultation process, alongside the 2021-31 LTP.