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Vision For Tauranga’s Civic Precinct Edges Closer To Reality

The people of Tauranga have been given a glimpse of what the city’s civic precinct could look like in the future, and today that vision moved another step closer to becoming a reality.

Artist's Impression

At today’s Council meeting, the Commission formally adopted the refreshed Tauranga Civic Precinct Masterplan presented by development partners, Willis Bond.

The refresh is an updated version of the Civic Masterplan developed in 2018 and includes facilities such as a civic whare (public meeting house), museum, library, hotel and a performing arts and conference centre.

As part of the refresh, the masterplan has been expanded to include the waterfront reserve, between Hamilton and Wharf Street, linking the water with the civic precinct via Masonic Park.

Commission Chair Anne Tolley says the layout of the refreshed masterplan and the proposed facilities within it will promote “opportunities for welcoming and expression, learning and discovery, appreciating our past and shaping our future, and places for entertaining and enjoyment”.

“These are activities and experiences the growing population of Tauranga deserve, and visitors expect from the country’s fifth largest city.”

With the masterplan now adopted, Anne says it’s time to take the necessary steps to “get on and make it happen”.

“Throughout the 2021-31 Long-term Plan process earlier this year, we heard anger, despair, and frustration from the community about the state of the central city.

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“Today’s decision, along with other significant projects happening across the city centre, should give the people of Tauranga confidence that an exciting transformation is within reach.”

The refreshed masterplan was prepared by Willis Bond in collaboration with mana whenua, including representatives from Ngai Tamarāwaho, Ngāti Tapu and Te Materāwaho, as represented by the Otamataha Trust.

Anne says extensive community consultation took place when the original masterplan was first developed but the refresh was needed to reflect community feedback received during the recent Long-term Plan process, and Council’s decision to relocate its administration function to 90 Devonport Road.

Commissioner Shadrach Rolleston says the refresh was also needed to consider and reflect the significant cultural history of the whenua (land).

“The civic precinct site was originally the central kāinga (village) of early-Tauranga, attracting people for trade, discussions, learning and entertainment. It is only fitting that the spaces within the refreshed masterplan aim to restore some of these activities in the centre of our city.”

The initial indicative cost to redevelop the main civic precinct and waterfront areas is estimated to be between $270 million and $300 million. It’s anticipated that the development of the hotel, conference and performing arts centre will be largely privately funded, with Council likely to contribute to operating costs.

A detailed finance plan with potential funding options, along with further design details, will be considered by the Commission early next year.

As part of the proposal put to Council today, Willis Bond Director Wayne Silver recommended a single-stage phased development approach is taken to help save time and money.

“This approach would see the facilities and public spaces constructed continuously and cohesively, helping to revitalise the city centre sooner and reduce costs assocated with lengthy construction projects.”

Today’s decision requires a Long-term Plan Amendment (LTPA) process, due to the significant change in the levels of service provided by some of the civic precinct facilities, which were not included in the 2021-31 Long-term Plan. The LTPA will run alongside the 2022/23 Annual Plan process early next year.

As part of the LTPA process, the community will be consulted on the phasing options for bringing the civic precinct redevelopment project to life.

The Commission is expected to make its final decision on how the delivery of the project will be phased and how it will be funded by 30 June 2022.

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