Potential future for Tauranga CBD

By John Cousins

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The Strand waterfront - new wharves and piers are planned. Photo/File
The Strand waterfront - new wharves and piers are planned. Photo/File

A high-powered group has unveiled an exciting vision of how the city's downtown could look in 50 years.

The birds-eye view plan of the city centre was inspired by the council's call for public feedback on the proposed redevelopment of the area occupied by the civic block, library and Baycourt. The plan generated so much interest among city councillors that they had a two-hour session with the authors.

"If we don't think this far ahead, then the city is in dire straits," group spokesman and architectural designer Phil Green said.

Others in the group include an architect, landscape architect, graphic designer and artist.

"It gives people the idea to take charge of the city. Once it is more pedestrianised and less traffic-oriented, people will start to see the beauty again."

The plan addresses the ripple effect of possible scenarios facing the council, including whether the administration buildings should stay in the civic block.

Corner of McLean St and The Strand - Area of new council admin building and library.
Corner of McLean St and The Strand - Area of new council admin building and library.

One of the most radical elements of the plan was to create a flowing pedestrian-friendly heart of the downtown area between Cameron Rd and the waterfront.

It required the closure or partial closure of Wharf St, Hamilton St, Harington St, Durham St, Willow St and The Strand.

The only civic buildings to survive would be Baycourt and the original 1960s administration block which would be redeveloped into an entertainment centre embracing the arts, retail and nightclubs.

Another element of the plan was to transform the southern end of Dive Crescent, with the council building and library relocated to the bottom of McLean St, beside a new, scaled-down traffic access to Dive Crescent.

Shifting the southern end of Dive Crescent over to the railway line opened up land for developments adjoining Bobby's Fresh Fish Market and the Cargo Shed - in effect extending the broad swathe of the waterfront to past the Cargo Shed.

A museum would be terraced up over the railway line on Dive Crescent to the gardens on Cliff Rd.

Dive Cres - new terraced museum up to Cliff Rd. Photo/File
Dive Cres - new terraced museum up to Cliff Rd. Photo/File

There would be more activity on the waterfront including a kayak centre, a safe area for swimming, a rebuilt Coronation Pier, more fishing boat berths in front of Bobby's and a wharf for water taxis fronting the Cargo Shed.

"It gives the waterfront back to the people."

Mr Green said the plan was a catalyst to start people thinking about the possibilities, including the need to inject more vitality into the downtown by encouraging apartment living.

"We need to get the mix right."

The bus interchange shifts up to a site on Cameron Rd, next to the tertiary education block, and Cameron Rd would be four-laned past the Domain to improve traffic flows once Dive Crescent was no longer an option for commuters.

The plan also anticipated the spread of the polytechnic and university across the entire block from Elizabeth St to Spring St.

Mr Green said the plan anticipated boosting the population of the downtown and surrounding areas by up to 10,000 people.

"Tauranga is a city unlike any other in the world and we have one chance to make it right."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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