LOCAL GOVERNMENT: Civic precinct transformation on the way

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After years of delay and indecision, Tauranga’s civic precinct is set to be transformed, restoring the heart and soul of the city centre.

Following decisions taken as part of this year’s long-term plan (LTP), Tauranga City Council will soon be initiating a number of projects which will help to reinvigorate the CBD, but the most exciting developments will come via a refresh of the civic precinct masterplan, which was adopted on 6 December.

Investment in our civic facilities is long-overdue and thanks to the masterplan, we now have a clear vision of what the civic precinct – the area bounded by Willow, Wharf, Durham and Hamilton streets – could look like.

Subject to our advisors coming-up with a workable construction and financing plan and community consultation via a long-term-plan amendment process early next year, we can now look forward to a progressive transformation of the city centre before the end of the decade.

The refresh includes the library and community hub approved in this year’s long-term plan, together with a civic whare (public meeting house), a museum and an exhibition and events space.

The Baycourt Theatre remains, but would be upgraded, and the civic precinct now extends through Masonic Park to the waterfront.
Heart of community goal

These spaces will provide opportunities for learning, exploring, debating, relaxing, entertaining and remembering the past and will combine to create a city centre that is truly the heart of our community – a place for locals to gather and connect with each other and for visitors to seek-out, because it captures the essence of Tauranga Moana.

A hotel and conference centre is also envisaged on the western side of Durham Street, but would be largely privately funded.

Funding of the precinct development will be a key factor, but we anticipate that at least half of the estimated cost of $270-300 million will come from outside sources.

The masterplan was prepared by Willis Bond, in consultation with tangata whenua, and specifically considers the location’s significant cultural history as the original area of Māori settlement. 

Funding of the precinct development will be a key factor, but we anticipate that at least half of the estimated cost of $270-300 million will come from outside sources.

This was a place where people gathered to discuss important matters, welcome visitors, learn, trade and enjoy everything Tauranga Moana has to offer. It’s therefore appropriate that the masterplan aims to restore the original purpose of the land.

Meanwhile, the current Council buildings on Willow Street will be demolished later this year to make way for the new library.

The customer service centre and central library activities which currently operate on the Willow Street site will temporarily relocate to the Goddards Centre, where work is well underway to transform the existing mall into a welcoming community hub – a centre of learning and discovery which reflects the cultural significance of that site.

The customer service activity will open to the public there by the end of January, while the library will move to its new home towards the end of March.

Most activities housed in the Willow Street building, including the offices of the commission and Chief Executive, have already moved to the existing council building at 306 Cameron Road, but the intent is to bring all administration staff together in a new leased building to be constructed at 90 Devonport Road, which is expected to be ready for occupation by the middle of 2025.

All of which says that we have some exciting times ahead!

Related: Council purchases land as part of marine precinct strategic review

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Anne Tolley
Anne Tolley
Tauranga Commission Chair

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