The Grey Power members who gathered for morning coffee on November 3rd at Raft Café were treated to an informative talk by two ladies from the City Council. Carole was part of the Planning Committee and Amanda was involved in Media Communications associated with the Council and their various committees.

The planning for a new civic centre started in July 2015 when toxic mould was discovered in the present buildings. There could be no “quick fix” so some long-term planning was required and a committee was set up to investigate and receive submissions. The process of planning the “resuscitation” of our “dying” city heart is expected to take until 2018 and will involve much consultation and public feed-back. Tauranga is an old city with many distinctive historical and geographical features that make it important to get the planning right for now and for the future. As part of the consultation process, the committee has already interviewed on an informal basis around 2000 random people and groups to get their views about the development of the city. Matters such as parking, transport, “feel” of the city, activities, surprise and delight, generational appeal came up in this process. Consultation will be across all age groups and Tangatawhenua will have input. One thing is certain, Carole said, it will be the people who decide what the city gets, not an architect.

The Committee has set three objectives:

1. A safer and more active, vibrant city centre;
2. Improved value for money for the community;
3. Improved local and economic development.

The land owned by Council in the middle of town is 2 hectares and will provide good potential for creative development of the facilities needed in our growing city. They want to create a destination, a city centre where people want to go, both for living and for visiting. Space around the buildings is important, as is the proximity to the water and the height of buildings, none of which will be higher than three or four storeys. There should be shared space for cars and pedestrians, and green space for recreation. The first project off the mark will be the “tidal steps”, designed to bring the harbour back up to our front door.
The concept of a museum in Tauranga has been explored many times over the years but still the city remains the only one of its size in New Zealand to be without one.
What could a museum do for Tauranga?
* Afford a place to showcase our heritage and attract touring exhibitions;
* Bring more people into the city centre and increase the economic vibrancy of Tauranga;
* Attract more overseas visitors and their money;
* Provide a focal point to showcase our unique Maori and maritime history;
* Tie in with all the other significant heritage sites around the Bay of Plenty;
* Provide a ratio of benefit to the community of 2.6 for every dollar spent.
* Provide interactive, educational displays.

At present, it’s not decided whether to retain the present Library but it is definite that three Council buildings will have to be demolished because it’s not viable to retain them.
A Conference centre and a Performance centre will be part of the redevelopment, and a museum would naturally be sited in a central place with transport provided so school groups and visiting groups, especially cruise ship passengers, have access. Perhaps there will be a free shuttle from the Port for visiting tourists.
About 75% of the funding for this redevelopment is expected to come from outside of Tauranga. Other groups will be part of the planning so it won’t be all our money that goes into it.
Care will need to be taken so that it becomes an ongoing, used facility, not just for ten years.

As Grey Power, we were invited to be part of the process of planning: to take advantage of public talks and opportunities for feed-back so that the views of the senior sector of Tauranga are heard.


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