They’re the heart of our community as hubs of connection, learning and support, and now our local community centres have a new roadmap of investments to ensure they meet the needs of our rapidly changing city.
Tauranga City Council has received the Community Centres Action & Investment Plan which proposes investments in much-needed facility upgrades, and new community centres in some areas.
The plan builds on the Community Facilities Investment Plan (2021) which identified the need for additional investment across the network to replace outdated facilities and provide new facilities in growth areas. Council has already allocated $47m in its Long-term Plan towards these projects. Funding from external funding partners and through the Development Contributions fees is expected to support and offset Council’s investment which is to be discussed in more detail prior to adoption.
The Community Centres Action & Investment Plan goes one step further by identifying when and where centre investment should occur and guiding Council’s approach to providing and managing these facilities. In developing the plan, Council undertook a series of community surveys and looked at alternative models of community centre provision both nationally and internationally.
Tauranga City Council’s Community Services General Manager Barbara Dempsey says the priority areas and actions of the plan reflect the feedback provided.
“Our community survey process confirmed that our city has a clear deficit in quality, modern and flexible spaces for communities to book and make use of. We also know that facilities alone don’t make a community centre, the people do. The community can expect to see investment across the city over the next few years.”
Research also showed a mixed approach to managing community centres is best – a combination of different governance and management models to suit different communities.
“We’d like to see a greater focus on making our centres welcoming, on community development and on bringing people together. We’ll be looking to support community centres to work more collaboratively with their local communities to ensure they meet the needs of the local people. We expect plenty of opportunities for local communities to shape how their community centres will look, feel and operate in the future,” says Barbara.
The long-awaited redevelopment of Merivale Community Centre will commence in 2023 with Council taking the lead on the project and providing additional funding to make it happen.
Pending Council adoption of the investment plan, attention will then turn to construction of a local community centre at the edge of Anzac Park in Gate Pā, which is expected to be open by 2025. The feasibility phase of that project is now complete, with special thanks to Accessible Properties, mana whenua and the community of Gate Pā for their drive and collaboration in getting the project to this stage. Focus will now shift to detailed design and then to construction.
Accessible Properties Tauranga General Manager Vicki McLaren says, “This is absolutely brilliant news! This stunning new community centre in Gate Pā will be the culmination of tireless community advocacy and a Council willing to invest in the wellbeing of its communities. Congratulations to all those involved, especially the amazing Accessible Properties tenant leaders.”
A new multi-use community space will also be built within the civic precinct development, with further investments in new or re-developed centres in Tauriko West, Wairākei, Welcome Bay, Greerton and Brookfield planned over the coming years.
Feasibility studies are also underway for special purpose centres such as a youth and a multi-cultural hub to meet the needs of key groups across the city.
To learn more about the Community Centres Action & Investment Plan, visit www.tauranga.govt.nz/communitycentres.