Tauranga MP Simon Bridges, Commission Chair Anne Tolley and Chief Executive of the Port of Tauranga Leonard Sampson outlined key concerns and plans for the future of Tauranga at the annual City Leaders Lunch.
Hosted by the Tauranga Business Chamber at Trinity Wharf today, the occasion marked Simon Bridges’ 10th and final time speaking at the event as he finishes his time as an MP on May 6.
Simon has come up with a ’10 for Tauranga’, following his ’14 for 14 years’ valedictory speech he presented at parliament on Wednesday.
His first, being the Tauranga CBD.
“In my view, the city absolutely needs a beating heart.”
While great things are happening, the city does need a hand from central and local Government and other civic centres, says Bridges.
Simon suggests the CBD parking is currently inadequate, and that parking in the CBD is essential for the amount of business people and families in Tauranga.
Another point was getting on top of antisocial behaviour and crime.
“We can’t just pussyfoot around here. Serious crime needs a serious response.
“We need a beefed up, wrap around gang response.
“We need housing for singles, families’ traditional families, and those with other needs.”
Bridges also spoke on roading and transport as three of his ’10 for Tauranga’.
He says it’s time to get on with the Northern Takitimu Link, as he suggests it is one of the most dangerous roads in the country. The MP also mentions Tauriko and Hewletts Road as projects that are important to the city but all depend on timing.
Number nine focuses on the Sulphur Point berth extension.
“It comes several years too late,” says Bridges. “We need a strong sense of colony and the port is the backbone of this.
To wrap up his ’10 for Tauranga,’ Bridges puts Tauranga’s green spaces at number 10.
“Frankly we don’t have enough of them for our people to run and walk in; to throw a Frisbee; to enjoy nature.”
Bridges says other central locations such as Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch are rich in public gardens.
“We have a number of playgrounds and small green spaces, but nothing that comes remotely close that every other city our size has in New Zealand.”
Anne Tolley also named the Tauranga City Council’s strategic priorities going forward.
Similar to Bridges, they include housing, transport, the CBD and the industrial sector.
“When I took up my role I was astonished by how poorly served the city was with community amenities,” says Tolley.
Tolley says she was appalled by the lack of housing choices and the lack of transport options around Tauranga.
“For New Zealand’s fastest growing city it is crucial that there’s an adequate supply of new housing, to accommodate the city’s new residents.”
Land availability, affordable housing and social housing for those aspiring to own their own house are also a key concern, adds Anne.
“Tiny homes, housing for an aging population, student accommodation and social housing all feature in our discussions.
“All of this is very much a work in progress. It’s frustratingly so, but that’s the nature of the process.”
For transport, Tolley says Tauranga residents all want a city that’s easy to move around in, and that certainly is not what we have now.
“Our long term plan includes spending of $2 billion dollars on transport over the next nine years.
“It’s not just about roads, but about sustainability of our transportation systems. We need public transport that a lot more people will choose to use, and we need better facilities for cycling and walking, so there are better alternatives to using cars.
“In the CBD, there is our vision to have a vibrant city centre that we can all be proud of and want to visit.
“When I took up my role I was extremely surprised and more than a little dismayed at the state of the CBD.
“That’s gradually changing, with the new developments such as the Farmer’s store and the residential developments at 38 Elizabeth, Craig’s building at the bottom of Devonport Road and the ongoing development at the fantastic University of Waikato campus and the latest student accommodation facilities.”
Tolley also mentioned the new library located at He Puna Manawa is a sign of things to come, and is a great use of underused space in the CBD.
“The game changer is the civic precinct development. This will transform an underutilized part of the CBD and will create a place for people to socialise, learn about the world, learn about our fascinating past, appreciate our rich culture and enjoy our magnificent waterfront environment.
“We’re allowed to start on the first part of that with the construction of the new Library community hub being approved last year. Other private developments will see more than one billion dollars into our CBD, so the transformation is definitely happening.
“The industrial sector is the fourth area, and the reality is we haven’t got enough.
“Some of what we have is probably in the wrong place, and we must provide for the future.
“The next stage of the Tauriko industrial estate is being planned. We’re looking at the future of the mount industrial area, and working sub regionally to find future areas for growth.”