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Long Term Plan Deliberations To Get Underway

Nelson City Council’s elected members begin deliberations on the Long Term Plan 2024-2034 (LTP) on Thursday 23 May, having received submissions from more than 1500 people and organisations. The consultation period closed on 28 April, and submitters were heard on 8, 9 and 10 May.

The number of submitters represented a 132% increase on the 2021 LTP, including 137 submitters who requested to speak to their submissions. Related consultations received submissions from 32 people and organisations.

Elected members will now meet on 23 and 24 May to consider the public feedback received and decide on any changes to what was proposed in the 10-year work programme.

Nelson residents were asked for feedback on eight key issues in the LTP, titled Beyond the Storm – Kei tua i te āwhā.

  • Rates affordability;
  • Buy-out of private properties affected by slips;
  • Council’s forestry approach;
  • Marina CCO Proposal;
  • Housing Reserve Fund changes;
  • All-weather sports turf;
  • Tāhunanui Beach Facilities;
  • and Arts Hub

Nelson Mayor Nick Smith says the significant increase in submissions reflects the community’s strong engagement with Nelson’s future.

“The record number of submissions shows the depth of Nelsonians’ passion for our city. We have spent hundreds of hours reading and listening to the wide range of views. I will be responding individually to every submitter after Council has made final decisions.”

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Key issues worth noting:

Rates affordability

Approximately 1000 submitters commented on Rates Affordability with the majority backing Council’s preferred option of medium service cuts and medium rates increases.

“The hardest decisions with the Long Term Plan are around balancing rates, debt and the service levels to the public,” says Mayor Nick.

“Costs for Council have increased just as they have for individuals given high inflation and interest rates. We’ve gone through every line of the LTP to see where we can make savings, but there is a certain service level that Nelsonians will expect us to provide. I think we’ve hit the right balance.”

Property Buyouts

Council received more than 850 submissions regarding the voluntary buy-out of private properties affected by slips in the August 2022 weather event.

The majority of submissions supported Council’s preferred option of accepting Central Government’s $12.3m funding offer which includes up to $6m to cover 50% of the total cost of purchase of private properties, with Council allocating up to $6m to cover the other 50%. The offer was originally for up to 14 properties. Following a request by staff, Central Government has agreed in principle to revise the maximum number of properties to 17. The funding cap remains the same.

Council will also discuss Eligibility Buy-out Principles, which sit alongside the support package, that set the methodology for determining eligibility and the content of offers. One of the principles consulted on stated that only residential properties and properties used as a primary place of residence would qualify. However, Councillors will debate whether to extend the Eligibility Buy-out Principles to include some assistance for residential rental properties.

“This was raised in several submissions and it is something that affects some property owners in Nelson,” says Mayor Nick.

“We will be deciding whether to amend the Eligibility Buy-out Principles so residential rental properties are included, but at a lower buy-out rate than primary homes of a maximum of 50% of their pre-August 2022 value for an insured home. The buy-out rate for an uninsured residential rental property would be a maximum of 40%.”

“This will mean that in total, Council, with the assistance of the central government package would purchase up to 17 residential properties affected by slips subject to an overall cap of $12m.”

Artificial Turf

Council received almost 900 submissions commenting on the all-weather turf proposal. About half of these supported Council’s proposal to construct an all-weather turf and reduce current upgrades for sports grounds.

“Those who supported the proposal cited considerable economic and social benefits but there wasn’t a clear consensus among sports groups as to the best way forward,” says Mayor Nick.

“Some clubs were concerned about accessibility and equity and signaled strong support for Council’s previous plans to upgrade turf and lighting on a range of sportsfields. As a result, elected members will be considering whether we request Sport Tasman undertake an analysis of the submissions we have received and for budgets to remain the same until that is completed.”

Council’s Forestry Approach

This key issue generated the most comments from submitters, with more than 1000 received. The vast majority of submissions supported Council’s decision to exit commercial forestry over time.

“Benefits of this approach raised by submitters included enhanced biodiversity and water conservation alongside more opportunities for recreation and tourism,” says Mayor Nick.

“If elected members decide to back this option, Council can start looking at the best ways to exit commercial forestry and the timeline. It’s by no means an overnight job, this change will be intergenerational and will require us to look carefully at how it is funded to minimise the impact on rates. That said, it’s a pretty historic decision for Nelson and one that will change our landscape forever.”

City Centre revitalisation

Outside of the key issues there was considerable interest in other projects linked to City Revitalisation. Items on the agenda include:

  • Additional funding for parking on Paru Paru Road,
  • A $100,000 budget for city and waterfront revitalisation projects and initiatives,
  • The carry-forward of funding for the new ARC (Archives, Research and Collections) Facility for the Nelson Provincial Museum,
  • Bringing forward funding for the Miller’s Acre bus hub, and
  • Bringing forward Opera in the Park by a year.

A note on Ngāti Koata whenua access

Council received a substantial number of submissions concerning recreational access to Ngāti Koata whenua and supporting the proposal to negotiate a longer-term recreational access agreement. The current arrangement ends 30 June 2024.

Negotiations with Ngāti Koata are currently under way and staff recommend that the proposal, and associated funding required to negotiate in good faith and maintain a longer-term recreational access agreement over Ngāti Koata whenua, remains in the draft LTP.

Following deliberations, the Long Term Plan 2024-2034 will be adopted, and rates set, at a Council meeting on 27 June. The LTP will come into effect from 1 July 2024.

You can read all the submissions on the Nelson City Council website.

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