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Government support for Rotorua district direction

29 June 2018

Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick says Government funding announced today is an important endorsement of the district’s progress and direction.

The Government today announced $811,625 from the Provincial Growth Fund to finalise the business cases for the development of Rotorua’s lakefront and forest facilities.

“These are two projects which will enhance recreational areas which are hugely important to our locals as well as being economic and cultural game-changers for Rotorua,” the Mayor says.

The projects are included in Rotorua Lakes Council’s 2018-28 Long-term Plan (LTP), which was formally adopted yesterday [Thursday June 28]. The 10-year plan has a major focus on improving and maintaining Rotorua’s existing assets and infrastructure, while catering for growth and investing in the future.

“The lakefront and forests are key assets for both locals and visitors. These proposed projects will help enhance what we already have and give us the infrastructure our community deserves, creating amenities and spaces that celebrate our unique environment and culture. Council and its partners can’t do these major projects alone – it will be dependent on being able to get external funding and today’s announcement enables us to now progress to the next stage. Once business cases have been developed, we will apply for funding to deliver the projects.

“Today’s announcement demonstrates Government confidence in Rotorua’s direction and potential and its importance in the national context.”

Mayor Chadwick says the lakefront and forest developments are just two of many significant projects Council has ahead of it, including infrastructure improvements, wastewater schemes, restoration of Rotorua Museum and re-opening of the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Projects.

“The Provincial Growth Fund has offered a unique opportunity for Council and its partners to pursue the lakefront and forest projects now, with the support of Government.

“It is not a case of prioritising these projects over any others, but about seizing opportunities as they arise. This funding will help us develop a robust plan for change and kick-start some of the abundant growth potential of Rotorua.”

The mayor says the lakefront and forest projects will unlock significant economic opportunities, with the potential to spark investment and create new jobs.

“But they are projects we can’t do on our own and we welcome the Government’s contribution towards the business case development.”

Mayor Chadwick says the funding will allow for the development of final business cases, including design work, to ensure robust due diligence and ground work is done to help secure future funding for the physical developments.

“Funding the business cases shows the Government can see the potential these developments have to truly help our region thrive.

“Council will work with key stakeholders and partners in these two projects, including landowners, iwi, the business community and other key stakeholders, such as Ohinemutu residents, to ensure a shared outcome for the benefit of the wider community.”

Where do these projects fit in to plans for Rotorua?

The two projects are included in the Rotorua Lakes Council 2018-28 Long-term Plan.

The Long-term Plan continues the direction set through the Rotorua 2030 vision and the refresh of that vision, The Rotorua Way, which established opportunities based on Rotorua’s strengths.

The lakefront and forest projects are also part of Rotorua’s Visitor Economy Strategy and are supported by the Bay of Plenty Connections’ Regional Visitor Economy Strategy as projects which are significant to the wider region.

The projects will improve existing facilities popular with locals and visitors, enable iwi to progress their aspirations, and provide the platform for future investment and development that will contribute to the local economy and help drive further progress.

They are significant projects which will require a substantial amount of external funding in order to make them happen.

The lakefront and forest were signaled for potential PGF funding because they fit the criteria. Both projects open significant opportunities for Rotorua, as well as benefits for tourism nationally, and will spark investment and create new jobs.

What’s proposed for these two projects?

Lakefront

The aim is to create a world class lakefront experience that represents who we are as a community and celebrate Rotorua’s unique environment and culture.

The lakefront reserve is an important recreation area for locals and visitors and through the Long-term Plan, Council has committed to investing in enhancing the reserve to provide the catalyst for further investment.

Stage one (from the old Scout Hall towards Ohinemutu) includes reinstatement and enhancement landscaping that tells Te Arawa stories, lake edge improvements including new pathways, roading changes including improved parking and upgraded toilets. This stage also includes removing the Soundshell (which is in poor condition, requires earthquake strengthening and has had to be closed) and creating a building site where investors could establish restaurants, cafes, kiosks and ticketing offices for lake activities. The Village Green will remain but will be improved as a space for community events and activity.

Future proposed stages include further landscaping, a new waka launching space and viewing platform, play space and jetty changes.

The total lakefront project would cost an estimated $40m. Council will invest approximately $20m, dependent on matched external funding.

Forest

The Tokorangi and Whakarewarewa forests are key recreational areas for thousands of locals and visitors, reflecting Rotorua’s active lifestyle.

Development of the forest asset will be done in collaboration with mana whenua and CNI Iwi Land Management through a co-governance arrangement, and alongside key stakeholders such as Scion, to provide the foundations for future commercial investment.

Council’s investment will focus initially on the Tokorangi Forest (Redwoods) visitor centre and improving the Long Mile Road entrance and public parking.

Following that, a new forest entrance hub will be created further up Tarawera Road (on the way to Tikitapu just past Okareka Loop Road) with infrastructure for forest users, including toilets and parking.

The project will cost an estimated $15m with Council to seek half of that, $7.5m, from the Provincial Growth Fund.

Why is the business case needed?

The business case will ensure the rationale, economic impact and preliminary work are completed to enable Council to actively seek further funding to progress the projects. The business case includes work such as surveying, traffic plans and project design, as well as economic impacts.

What happens once the business case is completed?

The business case will enable Council to seek further funding from the PGF’s major fund, which aims to enable infrastructure projects that will lift productivity and grow jobs. The businesses cases for further PGF funding will be submitted in August for the consideration of the funders.

What will the $811,000 be spent on?

It is crucial the groundwork is done properly for projects of this scale. The business case is also a requirement to seek further Government funding.

It will pay for economic analysis and detailed design which will include work such as topographical surveys, civil and traffic design. This means, if Council is successful in obtaining further funding, work can get underway quickly.

Does the business case mean it is going ahead?

No, both projects require a level of external funding to progress in full and the business cases are just the first step.

Is Rotorua Lakes Council putting money towards the business case?

Yes. The PGF funding represents about 55 per cent of the cost of the final business cases.

[ENDS]


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