Key economic issues to fore in District Plan

By Matthew Martin


The Rotorua District Council has released its proposed District Plan for consultation. The plan is the Rotorua district's most important land use document regulating everything from zoning to new buildings and activities. The Daily Post council and city issues reporter Matthew Martin takes a close look at some of the plan's important features in a series of articles.

It recognises the need to promote investment in Rotorua's key economic drivers.Liam Dagg, council planning services manager

People looking to invest in Rotorua or seeking to set up new and innovative businesses need to take a good look at the employment cluster of zones in the city's proposed District Plan.

As well as the city centre chapter, these include the commercial, industrial and business and innovation zone chapters.

The business and innovation zones provide investor-friendly rules in three areas where major investment is considered very likely in the next five to 10 years - Waipa Valley, the Scion campus and Eastgate.

Council planning services manager Liam Dagg said the inclusion of Eastgate as a business park reflected the initial intent of Eastgate and its high amenity in comparison with general industrial zones.

"Activities provided for within this park reflect the existing uses whilst taking into account the desire for a compact city centre."

He said the District Plan played a key role in encouraging economic growth throughout the district.

"It recognises the need to promote investment in Rotorua's key economic drivers - tourism, forestry and wood processing, and the geothermal and agricultural sectors," Mr Dagg said.

Property developer Ryan Holmes, of the Holmes Group, said the council did a great job during the initial consultation phase by holding workshops with key stakeholders. "In terms of the vision for the arterial routes they are right on the money."

Mr Holmes said having commercial sites located along the main arterial routes into Rotorua would give a much better impression to visitors than heavy industry, which was not a good look.

"They have been really accommodating ... which was really refreshing."

Mr Dagg said that in a move to improve the overall look of city entrances certain non-industrial activities, such as convenience and trade retail, had been provided for in the new plan.

Meanwhile, zones for commercial or non-industrial activities have been restricted, protecting the use of industrial land for industrial purposes.

Also involved in the consultation process was Rotorua's Crown Research Institute, Scion.

Scion chief financial officer Rob Trass said the proposed plan made it easier for forestry and wood processing organisations to have management and research and development offices in Scion's innovation park.

"Closer physical connection to these organisations helps Scion understand industry and also the speed at which we can transfer technology and knowledge to industry. This is also great for Rotorua because it is a potential catalyst to attract more of these industries to Rotorua, which will bring economic benefit to the area."

Mr Trass said that although the process had been slow it was clear the council was trying its best to deliver a plan that was good for the district.

"Our interaction with council has related to our site and we believe the proposed changes support forestry and wood processing through the work Scion does for these sectors."

To view the proposed District Plan visit www.rdc.govt.nz, or view a hard copy at the council's customer centre, or the library. Submissions can be made online at the council's website, emailed to planenquiry@rdc.govt.nz, or posted to the Planning Services Manager, RDC, Private Bag 3029, Rotorua. A District Plan public open day is on at Te Runanga Tearooms, Government Gardens, on Tuesday, January 8, from 9am to 5pm. Submissions close on March 1.

- ROTORUA DAILY POST

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