An indicative concept for the redesign of the city centre. Photo / Provided
An “absolutely critical” renovation plan for downtown Tauranga has been approved, with ongoing developments estimated at $2 billion.
The “high-level” City Center Action and Investment Plan presents “the key actions [Tauranga City Council] take with [its] partners over the next 10 years to continue to revitalize our downtown core.
Commissioners adopted it at a meeting on Monday, and the board released a video outlining its “vision” shortly after.
The plan refers to “over $2 billion in committed investment” in the downtown area.
This covered $370 million of “local government investments”, $180 million of “central government investments” and $1.5 billion of “private investments”.
Council-led projects included the $303 million Civic Precinct development the council approved in May, of which ratepayers were to pay about $70 million, with most of the rest to come from grants and recycling actives.
The plan covers the area from Otamataha and the Elms to Third Avenue, including the downtown shopping area and the waterfront.
It will divide the city center into eight “districts”; cultural and historical, justice, waterfront and taumata kahawai, sports and events, civic, retail and commercial, knowledge and mixed use.
Some of the objectives of the plan:
• A new community stadium (subject to the results of the business case)
• A new courthouse
• Better public transport services (including a “simple and legible” bus route)
• Te Hononga ki Te Awanui/Commemorative Way
• Replaced waterfront parking with “extended waterfront park and event space”
• Lighting plan for the waterfront, including the lighting of the port bridge and/or the Matapihi railway bridge
• Upgrading and rehabilitation of quays for commerce and leisure
• Reopening of the cargo shed for community/commercial activities
• Attract a grocery store
• A north/south walking route to major central destinations
• Temporary and permanent street closures
• Short-term parking improvements to support retail access
• A program of art, sculpture, interpretation and orientation to raise “the visibility and tangibility of Maori history”
Commission chairwoman Anne Tolley told the meeting that the plan was “the revitalization of the center of the town of Tauranga, and that is absolutely essential”.
“It’s important that we have a cohesive center for this great city.
“The private sector is also coming to the party and investing.”
She said when council consulted on the civic precinct, most people wanted to know how it would fit into the town center as a whole.
“It’s the complete plan that answers all of those questions. It’s going to be really interesting, I think, to see how the community responds to that.”
She said there were “meaningful changes” proposed, including “focusing on people”.
“It’s a change from the past 50 years when city centers have developed around cars and parking.”
Commissioner Stephen Selwood said on arriving in Tauranga he saw a city focused on ‘cost management, with no clear understanding of… what we want to achieve as a city’ with a ‘trunk full plans that had been constantly rewritten, relaunched and consulted”.
He said the commission’s mission had been to help staff “elevate that vision beyond keeping rates low”.
He said the community told him “we exceeded our plans, get out there and do something”.
He said the plan would mean changes for people “used to driving around town and parking right outside their store”.
Instead, they would drive to a parking lot and “get out there and experience” a “much more uplifting experience” of the city.
“Now the challenge ahead of us is to move it beyond a plane.”
Commissioner Shadrach Rolleston acknowledged the businesses “which are still here…continuing to trade, continuing to operate, in quite a difficult environment”.
He hoped that commerce would “reappear, as before” in the city center.
He said the plan would honor Tauranga’s founding history as a place to “gather, connect, trade – a place to trade, a place to learn”.
He said it would have been good to consider “an opportunity to reduce our carbon footprint” in the plan.
Commissioner Bill Wasley, who had lived in Tauranga since 1985, said he saw a
“a range of plans and strategies that all sounded great…then the focus shifted to something else”.
He said the new plan was inspired by these and did not start from scratch.
He wanted to ensure that monitoring, reporting and enforcement arrangements were in place to ensure the board was getting the results it was looking for.
“A plan is all well and good, but without that funding and that commitment to implementation, it doesn’t get us much further.”
Tolley asked the council’s Urban Communities Program Director, Carl Lucca, about how progress and results would be measured.
Lucca said staff were working on a follow-up framework, which would come back for discussion.
Tolley said it would also be useful in the future to have an explanation of the plan’s emphasis on people traveling “to, from and within” the city center rather than ” through” this one.
According to the plan, this meant “giving people the option to drive to the outskirts of downtown and the park, and providing them with a safe, high-quality environment for them to walk, cycle, use micro-mobility or public transport to get around”. once they are there”.
Tolley said it was unclear from the plan why this was happening and how it would work for residents.
Darren Davis, practice lead for transport and land use integration at Stantec, the plan’s consultants, replied that “everyone has access to each area, but it’s managed in a way that avoids that transit traffic does not pass from one side of the city center to the other”.
Christine Jones, the council’s managing director of strategy and growth, said the plan outlined the “principles and concepts” of the project.
This is followed by more detailed transportation modeling, which may mean some “adjustments” to the plan.
Tolley said the commissioners “may just want to have a briefing to follow because there are a number of issues that I think we need to follow up on after we pass it at a high level”.
The $1.5 billion private investment was based on an investment plan released by economic development agency Priority One in May. It included two state-funded developments – the courthouse and part of the civic precinct project – but these were mostly major private developments.
The council said some projects had not been confirmed at that time. The downtown plan recognized “a figure of approximately $2 billion more accurately represents future private and public investment for this area.”
After the meeting, Priority One chief executive Nigel Tutt said private investment in the development had increased since then, due to both continued interest and rising construction costs. The plan was a “living document”.
“All cities need a great downtown…it’s the right time – it really is a transformative time for the city.”
He said the council’s plan would encourage private investment and ensured the sector was informed of what the council was doing.
“Why would the private sector invest in Tauranga if its own city council does not? »