Hamilton has yet to reach its full potential
16 October 2015 Hamilton has yet to reach its full potential
Property Council Waikato Branch commends Hamilton City Council in developing its Hamilton Central City Transformation Plan.
This is the first critical step towards the central city becoming more economically competitive and socially vibrant.
Waikato Branch president Rob Dol says he is cautious about the Plan and whether it will deliver the projects required without significant unity, collaboration and funding by the Public and Private sector.
“While the Plan provides a timeframe over which the projects are expected to come to fruition, there’s a crucial absence of a prioritised funding plan that outlines how projects will be financed and in what order.
“This absence doesn’t inspire confidence for the property development industry. Why would developers risk substantial investments in the central city if the Council does not provide a guarantee that the projects in the Plan will even occur?
“Without adequate funding and timeframes in the Plan you can’t meet key deliverables and milestones. This makes the Plan nothing more than another shiny planning document that other documents and priorities could supersede or make irrelevant.
“For real change to occur, we have recommended that Hamilton City Council seek a clear mandate to support the spending of $50 million for key CBD renewal projects over next one to three years.
“Examples of these include a link bridge from Wintec to Garden, bringing an element of the University and Wintec into the city, student accommodation into the CBD, and better access to the Waikato River”.
Mr Dol believes there is still much in the Plan that leaves room for optimism however.
“Remove the elephant in the room around funding and you have a Plan that offers some exciting proposals like dividing the central city into precincts, allowing greater housing density, more laneways, greater urban design and amenity.
There is general consensus in the private sector that a partnership is needed between the community, Council and private sector to arrest help central city’s growth.
“For Property Council it’s about partnership between the community, council and the private sector. There are over 2000 businesses who employ nearly 20,000 staff in the central city. We need a robust and futureproofed Plan that inspires people to live, work and play there. We cannot continue with having Victoria Street full of empty shops with ‘for lease’ signs.
“We are at an important crossroads. Now that Hamilton’s CBD is the focal point of attention, we can either seize the opportunity to lift its performance, or risk not going far enough to make a real difference.”
In September, the Waikato Branch released its central city strategy called Hamilton: Reviving the CBD with six recommendations for Hamilton City Council.
“It’s a positive to see Hamilton City Council sharing a number of our views around density and urban design, but disappointedly they have chosen at this stage not to progress our idea of a CBD Board.
““Hamilton cannot afford to have a central city that people do not want to visit, we need rejuvenation and we need a robust plan with funding attached so projects can start now, which will inspire community and private sector confidence.”