Tauranga City Council Commissioners have today approved the reclassification of a small area of land at Marine Park, Sulphur Point, kick-starting the development of a world-class marine research and education facility.
The decision follows public consultation with the Tauranga community, which saw 66% of more than 300 submitters support the reclassification. Of those supporting the reclassification more than 90% were strongly in support, and a substantial majority of younger people supported the proposal.
Tauranga City Council General Manager: Strategy and Growth, Christine Jones says the facility will play a key role in Tauranga’s economy and the ongoing mahi to support and protect our marine environment.
“We’re pleased to see this level of engagement and the balanced representation across our whole community in the submissions received,” says Christine.
“Whilst this may be just the first step in this process, it’s already great to see support from our community for this development. In particular, our younger people, and to start to see the project come to life,” she says.
Of the submitters who opposed the proposal most were concerned about the loss of open recreational space. Some of these concerns will be addressed in actions that will result from the 2021-23 Long-term Plan Amendment and the Marine Facilities Framework (currently under development). The proposed site for the facility was chosen to mitigate the loss of open space, as it’s set back from the water’s edge and maintains access to harbour margins. An observational study of this area of Marine Park conducted in 2021 confirmed that the area proposed to site the facility is underutilised.
In 2018, Tauranga City Council consulted with the public on a similar proposal for the land. However, that proposal sought to revoke the reserve status rather than reclassify it. Reclassifying the land maintains the protections under the Reserves Act 1977 and will not impact Tauranga City Council’s ownership of the site.
Once the reclassification is complete, entities demonstrating the capability to establish and operate a facility will be able to apply to lease the land through a tender process managed by Tauranga City Council. This is expected to happen later this year.
“It’s intended that parts of the marine research and education facility will be open to the public for a range of educational activities,” says Christine.
More information can be found at www.tauranga.govt.nz/marinefacility