John is a senior reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Tauranga's languishing CBD sparks debate

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John Dalzell is speaking in Tauranga today. Photo/file
John Dalzell is speaking in Tauranga today. Photo/file

The man who led the revitalisation of Auckland's central city waterfront by attracting more than $1 billion of investment is speaking in Tauranga today.

Panuku Development Auckland's interim chief executive John Dalzell will offer his vision of how lessons gained from Auckland could be applied to Tauranga's CBD.

Mr Dalzell, who headed Waterfront Auckland before it was merged into the council-controlled urban regeneration agency, has been invited to speak by Tauranga mayoral candidate Max Mason.

His speaking engagement from 12.30 - 2pm in the function room above the Strand's Macau restaurant echoed some of the opinions expressed in a survey conducted by Mount Maunganui resident Max Lewis who asked Tauranga council and mayoral election candidates how they would invigorate Tauranga's CBD.

''The Bay of Plenty is New Zealand's highest growth region for the past five quarters while Tauranga's CBD continues to languish amongst the worst in New Zealand,'' Mr Lewis said.

Fourteen candidates responded to his survey question, ''If you are elected, how will you invigorate Tauranga's CBD, and how will you fund it.''

The diverse opinions included Kelvin Clout who wanted a year-round calendar of regular events, and for the council to buy up and consolidate smaller property parcels in order to enable a larger scale of development.

Gail McIntosh advocated building a walkway along the side of the harbour from Memorial Park to The Strand, and to encourage more CBD shops to open on Sundays.

Max Mason called for the establishment of an urban development agency to take responsibility for revitalising the city centre, and to develop partnership funding relationships.

''Utilise council-owned land to lever joint venture developments including the council administration building, an international hotel, a convention centre, a museum, a stadium, high-density developments, and iconic waterfront,'' he said.

Geoffrey Brown said the CBD was ''exceptionally well policed'' by the council's enforcement unit: ''You can get fined $200 for having a Warrant of Fitness or registration out of date...this does not occur when using Papamoa Plaza, Bayfair etc.''

Matt Cowley called for the completion of the urban centres hierarchy strategy to ensure the role of the city centre was not further undermined by future shopping centres. He also wanted to encourage more people to live in the CBD so it was a seven-day-a-week destination.

Steve Morris said the money should come from the businesses seeking to attract more people into the CBD, instead of residential ratepayers. He proposed rebuilding Coronation Wharf and partnering with community organisations to light up the Matapihi rail bridge.

Graeme Moore supported the council freeing up funds for other projects by leasing civic office space instead of spending $74 million on a new building.

Other candidates' comments:

Sheldon Nesdale: ''The university campus in the CBD will make a difference, especially if it is combined with low cost accommodation. They will bring more activity into the centre, around the clock.''

Greg Brownless: ''If the CBD is ever to be revitalised, it has to be a united effort between the council, landlords, tenants and retailers. All those advocating the importance of a successful CBD must be prepared to put their money where their mouths are.''

Terry Molloy: Our city is stifled by growth infrastructure debt, it leaves us with very little room to move. Ratepayers have a limited ability to pay. We need a new model for funding the city - we need to look at other partners.''

Catherine Stewart: ''A survey of business owners would help identify what needs to happen in the CBD. Lack of parking and pricing is an issue constantly raised by people. It is disappointing that the council cannot even update the Christmas decorations which badly need replacing.''

Noel Peterson: ''With the use of modern technology, we may not need to build a huge new centralised civic building. Having small satellite council facilities leased in suburban settings is quite conceivable. I don't believe the whole of the existing civic building is a write-off.''

Kevin Millin: ''Unique shops that are not in other parts of the city may attract more movement into the CBD. I'd like to see Willow St a one-system and the area made safe for users of public transport. What discouraged me from shopping in the CBD was traffic enforcement officers' hard approach to time limits.''

Brian Oxley: ''There has been several revamps of the area in recent years, but it seems there has been limited success. Until we actually know what is required and who is going to pay, we are not going to resolve the situation.''


Main points of John Dalzell's presentation to revitalise the CBD
- Create a community vision
- Build community engagement
- Get people emotionally involved and committed

- Bay of Plenty Times

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