Tauranga City Council’s commissioners have resolved to write directly to Government Ministers to detail their concerns that a lack of alignment between agencies and legislation is impacting the planning and funding of urban development in New Zealand’s fastest-growing city.
Speaking to the ‘Growth & Land Use Projects Progress Report’ on Tuesday, May 23 Council meeting agenda, Commissioner Stephen Selwood acknowledged the additional funding the Government has put in place via a range of agencies, but said the processes and funding provided are “insufficient to unlock the land needed for housing or increase the supply of affordable housing in Tauranga”.
“Despite their best intentions, current legislation and processes are a roadblock to delivering the additional development capacity needed to address our current shortfall of residential and commercial land in the timeframe they are needed,” says Selwood.
He added that action was being taken through SmartGrowth, but a greater sense of urgency was required to get the city over the funding, planning and process hurdles that were inhibiting progress.
“Tauranga City Council is doing everything it can to unlock land to meet demand, from funding needed infrastructure through increased rates and developer contributions to developing its own land, recycling assets, enabling intensification and leveraging available public and private sector funding.
“Ironically, the Council is seeking to deploy the Government’s Infrastructure Funding and Financing legislation to enable private sector financing of desperately needed transport infrastructure, but may be stymied if Waka Kotahi is unable to commit its funding share without change to its empowering legislation, or provision of an alternative Crown funding pathway. It’s like we have to take one step back for every two steps we take forward,” says Selwood.
“On the housing front, the planned Te Tumu greenfields development is going to take longer than expected, due to the need to reach agreement with landowners on access and reach alignment with Government agencies on wetland requirements and progressing the Papamoa East Interchange.
"That underlines the importance of development in the western corridor, where 15,000 homes and 10,000 jobs are dependent on separating state highway, freight and interregional traffic on SH29 from public transport, cycling and walking connections on local roads and SH29A, from Tauriko to Cameron Road.”
Selwood says there was a need for tangible commitment to the urban growth partnership between SmartGrowth, Government, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency and other agencies to remove the roadblocks and provide the necessary funding for the Papamoa East Interchange; SH29 improvements; Hewletts Road/Hull Road/Totara Street sub-area corridor upgrading; and Fifteenth Avenue/Turret Road improvements.
“We need real action that aligns with the scale of the challenges we are facing,” says Selwood.
“While we all agree on the need to reduce carbon emissions, just setting a reduction target for vehicle-related emissions in a growing city like Tauranga won’t work unless there is also investment in mode-change and a transport network where vehicles are consistently able to move across the city efficiently.”
The Commission will be writing to the relevant Government Ministers seeking urgent meetings to define and agree an action plan to address the city’s transport and housing issues.