Hocking off the Tauranga Racecourse – no way!

Simon Bridges
National Party MP

A couple of weekends back, I had the pleasure of an afternoon at the races at the Tauranga Racecourse.

I’m not a racing man but I’ve been going to this event, the Japan Trophy Day, for more than a decade now, and it’s always a good day with some great traditions and racing. This year marked the 50th such event – time flies when you’re having fun.

That said, one thing was on everyone’s lips – an issue the Weekend Sun did a good job of picking up last week – the rumour that our unelected council and possibly the Labour government is set on hocking off the course and turning it into high density housing.

My position is simple: no way.

We all accept there’s a housing crisis and I’ve written a number of columns here on this in recent months, proposing solutions for Tauranga like converting the old state houses into higher density, higher quality housing, and getting on with the supporting infrastructure and processes so that developers can get on with housing all around Tauranga in the likes of Papamoa East and Tauriko.

In other words, use the land already in housing better and free up Tauranga’s surrounding land as well. If we do this there’s no land shortage. We could build many thousands more homes.

But to do this at the racecourse is a special kind of madness. For starters, do some of the big systemic things I’ve mentioned that will actually move the dial, not this desperate stuff that makes clear how few real plans the council and government actually have on housing. And let’s also acknowledge the need for green space like the racecourse and the golf course next to it in urban Tauranga. We can’t live in one big housing development – we need inner city green amenities, too.

In discussing this with many at the races not a person disagreed. Unless the Board of the racing club has a massive change of heart, my position won’t change either. No way.

One final point. If this is all just a rumour with nothing in it, I call on council and local Labour list MPs to say so and to pull the proposal from the Council’s 72 page spatial plan forthwith. If not, I would say this rumour, regrettably, has some legs. One more time I say no way.


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