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Green Light For Most Significant Investment Ever Seen In Tauranga City Centre

With the weight of history on their shoulders, Tauranga City Council Commissioners pushed ahead with plans to breathe new life into the heart of Tauranga city today.

Commission Chair Anne Tolley said it was an emotional moment for the Commission after 20 years of huge community input and previous plans that had failed to eventuate.

“We have a unique opportunity to make a decision that will give life to all that was hoped for and dreamt of by thousands of people who call Tauranga home,” she said before the resolution was formalised.

“They’ve seen so many plans and none have come to fruition but that doesn’t negate the hopes and dreams that went into them.”

The decision follows extensive community engagement on two options for bringing Council’s refreshed Civic Precinct Masterplan - Te Manawataki O Te Papa - to life. The approved Masterplan implementation will see a $303 million investment in developing the city centre over the next eight years and includes facilities such as a Civic Whare (public meeting house), Museum, Library, and an Exhibition and Events Centre. The programme of work will be subject to achieving 50% of the required funding from non-ratepayer sources.

“After considering all the feedback we received, both formally and informally, I’m comfortable there’s a good understanding in the community that this is a major part of the re-establishment of the CBD, and overall, people want us to get on with it and make it happen,” Anne said.

Of the total 1181 submissions received, 628 submitters provided a specific response to the question posed in the consultation document regarding the implementation of Te Manawataki O Te Papa. Of those responses, 72% supported Option 1, which was Council’s preferred option. Informal feedback also reflected wide support for Council’s proposal, lots of ideas for how the city centre could be improved, and the desire to do it once and do it properly.

Commissioner Shad Rolleston said thinking long term wasn’t necessarily in the minds of decision makers historically.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to make some bold decisions, enhance partnerships with mana whenua, build back trust with our communities, and move the city forward,” he said.

Commissioner Stephen Selwood said it comes down to doing the right thing for the city.

“This will bring enormous dividends and be a catalyst for the whole transformation of Te Papa peninsula and right across Tauranga moana. It provides the amenity to support everything from intensification and environmental outcomes to business confidence and social and cultural wellbeing,” he said.

Bay of Plenty economic development agency Priority One recently released a blueprint for the city, outlining 20 developments poised to pump $1.5 billion dollars of private investment into the city centre by 2030. The developments include residential apartments and commercial developments outside of public investment in the civic precinct.

Commissioner Bill Wasley believes this would have been less likely to happen without the decisions the commissioners made last year to refresh the 2018 Civic Precinct Masterplan.

“The blueprint reinforces the greater confidence of the private sector and continued leadership from Council as fundamental in encouraging ongoing investment in the city centre,” he said.

“It’s about sending the right signals and turning around the flight from the city centre that has occurred over the past 20 or so years.”

The commissioner’s decision to bring the full refreshed Civic Precinct Masterplan to life will be included, along with other key decisions, in the amended 2021-31 Long-term Plan when it is adopted at the end of June.

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