John is a senior reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Villagers hit back at opponents of sale

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Tauranga Historic Village tenants Lynn Sinclair and Simone Anderson are looking forward to a busier village.Photo / John Borren
Tauranga Historic Village tenants Lynn Sinclair and Simone Anderson are looking forward to a busier village.Photo / John Borren

Tenants of Tauranga's Historic Village have hit back at organisers of an online petition opposing the sale of village land to build a community hub.

Simone Anderson of the Incubator said all villagers were over the moon at the council's decision to sell the land to the Tauranga Energy Consumer Trust (TECT).

"It will be a catalyst for the whole village. TECT will anchor the village and make it a viable destination," she said.

The sale of the green space, measuring nearly half a hectare, has sparked an online petition which has so far attracted 126 signatures.

Opponents want to overturn the council's unanimous decision, saying the loss will significantly hinder the size of future events held at the village.

TECT wants the land for a two-storey building to house 30 to 40 not-for-profit community agencies in open-format offices, sharing a central reception.

Ms Anderson said what wasn't being mentioned by the petitioners was that Otumoetai Primary School's historic 117-year-old classroom would be relocated, and the road to nowhere would no longer dissect the area that was planned for the building.

The rest of the green space would be drained and landscaped to make it functional rather than a bog, she said.

A roofed verandah and stage would also be built by TECT along the front of the building for use by performers and festival organisers, who would also have access to parts of the building.

"It is a great gift back to the village, there are so many pluses," she said.

Ms Anderson, member of the Village Advisory Group, said the group had a robust vision that respected the buildings. "That will never be compromised."

Jen Murray, a health coach for village tenant NZ Health Now, said the community hub was in keeping with where the village wanted to head.

The architect was very mindful that the new building had to fit the village atmosphere. "There may be a couple of negatives, but the positives far outweigh the negatives."

Lynn Sinclair of Leadlight Expressions said the hub would give people another reason to come to the village. "I have been here for 11 years and seen a lot of ideas come and go, and I think this will really work. I cannot see this as being anything but a good move for the village."

TECT chairman Bill Holland said the hub would not be geared up for day-long seminars but the village was. And although it would have a canteen, people would need to use the village cafe to buy food. "It will be the biggest boost the village has had for a long time ... the village has been a sad tale. It needs these ancillary activities."

Tauranga's other major funders, BayTrust and Acorn, were almost certain to join TECT in the new building. Bringing the three under one roof would see more collaboration, he said.

Mr Holland said the idea for the hub was promoted by Dame Susan Devoy when she was a member of TECT's board of trustees, and the appointment of Wayne Werder as TECT's chief executive had seen him bring Sport Bay of Plenty's successful model for Tauranga's Sports House.

Tauranga Historic Village:

* 57 tenants in about 60 buildings.

* 55 per cent community groups and 45 per cent commercial and retail.

* Run up $1 million deficit over the past five years.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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