Tauranga City Council’s Long-term Plan 2021-31 (LTP) has taken a significant step forward with the conclusion of deliberations which have confirmed the work programme and budgets that will guide the city’s future for the next decade.
Key features were the inclusion of a number of community requests and confirmation of the proposed level of investment consulted on with the community. These aspects have been accommodated within the debt and rates increases set-out in the draft LTP. The long-term plan will now be finalised for adoption at a Council meeting on 26 July.
Other substantive decisions made during the deliberations have included rating structure changes; confirmation of separate sales of the Pitau Road and Hinau Street elder housing village sites for new housing development; adjustments to proposed development contributions, establishment of a new, $1.81 million Community Grants Fund; accelerated delivery of the Papamoa East Interchange; confirmation of the new location for the Council’s civic administration premises; and a raft of initiatives in the economic development, community partnerships, places and spaces and transport activities.
Speaking at the conclusion of the deliberations meeting, Commission Chair Anne Tolley acknowledged the huge amount of work by the Council executive team and staff in bringing together comprehensive issues and options reports and other requested information, which had made the process “so much easier”.
“We’ve had a month of intensive engagement on the draft LTP where, individually and as a group, the commissioners have talked to hundreds of people about their priorities for the city and the commitments they were prepared to make to see Tauranga progress and have our infrastructure issues addressed,” she said. “The commissioners have listened and taken those views into account and I believe the LTP we have developed as a result of the community’s feedback represents a significant step forward for the people of Tauranga.”
Those comments were echoed by her fellow commissioners, who referred to the importance of the plan in addressing current and future infrastructure needs and housing supply and affordability issues, with future work on a rates postponement process also aiming to assist rates affordability for people on low or fixed incomes.
Notable decisions are as follows.
- Agreement to increase the commercial rating differential from 1:1.2 to 1:1.6, bringing it more into line with other centres, together with a decision to initiate work to identify new commercial rating categories (such as CBD and port and related industries groupings) which would better reflect affordability and benefit profiles; and an agreement to undertake further work on the rates postponement policy and development of a new national scheme.
- Approval of the selection of 90 Devonport Road as the preferred medium-term location for the Council’s administration premises, with a capital budget of $16.7 million over the 2022-24 years (supported by more than 80% of 527 submissions).
- Delivery of the Papamoa East Interchange with the Eastern Link highway by 2024, with $4 million being brought forward to 2021/22 to undertake preliminary work and design. Commissioners noted that this project would benefit existing residents, as well as ‘unlocking’ the development of significant new housing. Work with central government partners on funding and financing options will be completed before any final decision to proceed.
Economic development and growth initiatives:
- Establishment of a $100,000 fund, to be administered by Priority One, to be distributed to the film and media sector;
- Creation of a $500,000 city centre development incentive fund, with a particular focus on residential development;
- Continuation of two-hour free parking availability in the CBD.
Community Partnership initiatives:
- Confirmation of one full-time equivalent role to coordinate the Kāinga Tupu programme to address homelessness.
Spaces and Places sport initiatives:
- Retention of the current project to construct a new Memorial Park aquatic centre, and agreement to bring forward the indoor sports facility project, if possible, as the aquatic project progresses;
- Confirmation of a capital grant of $1.72 million to the Bay Oval Trust, with debt to be retired over the next 11 years, as a one-third contribution towards the cost of the Stage 2 pavilion, event day toilets generator shelter and broadcast towers;
- Committing $150,000 to projects to assess the needs of roller sports, upgrade skatepark facilities and develop the design of a destination skatepark facility, with a further $670,000 available in 2022/23 to contribute to construction;
- Engagement to be initiated with the Welcome Bay community and key stakeholders on reserves and amenity development, utilising funds which had been earmarked for Forrester Drive walkway use in 2022 and an additional $309,000 in 2023;
- Gordon Spratt Reserve initiatives including an additional $375,000 to contribute to replacing the lights at the netball and tennis courts and retention of $235,000 to install a pump track, both in 2021/22.
Spaces and Places – other initiatives:
- $290,000 in 2021/22 to fund improved reserve amenities (drinking fountains, public toilets, etc.);
- $60,000 for tree planting, in addition to the existing shade provision budget.
- $43,000 in 2021/22 and $31,000 in 2023 and 2024 to support Predator Free Bay of Plenty’s activities;
- A contribution of $146,000 towards the ‘Wednesday Challenge’ a new app-based initiative to encourage the use of alternative transport modes to private vehicles (subject to funding from other sources);
- Supporting a partnership agreement with Envirohub BOP, to deliver a suite of programmes which will raise awareness and promote action around climate change, biodiversity, pollution and resilience (with funding to be provided via the new Community Grants Fund);
- Provision of $100,000 (split between 2021/22 and 2022/23) to explore innovative transport solutions.
Other issues and options:
- $100,000 to enable temporary exhibition of parts of the city’s Heritage Collection;
- Establishment of a $150,000 heritage fund to support business case development for a heritage and taonga collection.