John is a senior reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Proposed 1200-seat performance venue back in focus

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Visualisation of Tauranga's proposed Civic Heart redevelopment, with the multi-purpose performance venue located to the left of the main set of steps, in front of present-day Baycourt.  Photo/File
Visualisation of Tauranga's proposed Civic Heart redevelopment, with the multi-purpose performance venue located to the left of the main set of steps, in front of present-day Baycourt. Photo/File

Tauranga City Council has done a $100,000 U-turn and brought forward the investigation for a multi-purpose performance centre into the same timeline as the proposed museum and new library studies.

Two weeks after the council agreed 6-5 to shift the development of the business case back so it fell into the 2018-28 long-term plan, the voting swung around to support the original recommendation to carry out the investigation in the current financial year.

This week's 8-3 vote saw Councillor Kelvin Clout say the council had made a bit of a blue when it decided that the development of the centre's indicative business case would be put in the 2018-28 long-term plan.

He said the council had shot itself in the foot by taking the indicative business case study out of the 2016-17 year.

Looking at all three projects at the same time meant that if the council decided not to include the 1000 to 1200-seat performance centre in the civic heart upgrade, then the site earmarked for the venue could be considered for the library or museum, he said.

Opposing was Councillor Rick Curach who said the original decision effectively meant the performance centre was off the radar because it would be a 10-year plan discussion.

Councillor Gail McIntosh said some councillors discussed the decision after the September 6 meeting and decided there would be efficiencies in doing the three investigations at the same time. "It was a bit of a slip up."

Councillor Matt Cowley said doing the investigation in 2016-17 would maintain flexibility in the master plan and ensure the community had an informed discussion.

Councillor Steve Morris said he would like to kick the project into touch, but he understood it was not the will of the majority. Councillor Leanne Brown said it was logical to get the steps right.

Councillor John Robson feared that it was another $100,000 that would go into a pot and come out with something that was less than the quality needed to make a decision.

Councillor Catherine Stewart opposed bringing it back into 2016-17, saying that if and when the city needed a performance centre, it may need more than 1000 to 1200 seats.

Opponents of shifting the investigation back to the current financial year were Councillors Rick Curach, John Robson and Catherine Stewart. Supporting were Mayor Stuart Crosby and Councillors Leanne Brown, Kelvin Clout, Matt Cowley, Bev Edlin, Bill Grainger, Gail McIntosh and Steve Morris.

The council had previously agreed to spend $300,000 to develop a detailed business case for a new museum that would include looking at the alternative site on Cliff Rd, and $400,000 to develop a business case for a "fit-for-purpose, future-proofed" city library.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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