Tauranga mayor Stuart Crosby today floated setting up a separate urban development authority to execute the delivery of new CBD amenities.

"I've got a very strong feeling that if we are going to kick off [the planned new civic centre infrastructure] now is the time," he told the annual City Leaders Lunch.

The lunch, which drew more than 100 Bay of Plenty business and civic leaders, also featured speeches by Tauranga MP and Transport Minister Simon Bridges, and former Comvita chief executive and new Priority One chairman Brett Hewlett.

Mr Crosby said one of the reasons past proposals had got off to a false start was because the council balance sheet wasn't big enough to do all the basic stuff which was absolutely critical.


"The real issue is around the delivery. In my view, if we formed a city centre development authority outside of council, then the prospect of that happening is a lot stronger. The council of the day would set the strategic framework and the outcomes. But it's actually delivered by another authority.

"I think if we form a group that has a single focus on delivering stuff, two things will happen. It will be more effective and efficient and it will happen quicker. But more importantly, the private sector will like that and they will come on board and invest in things either within that precinct or aligned to it."

Tauranga City Council Chief executive Garry Poole said a similar model was used in Auckland and Wellington, and was also being used in various forms for the rebuild of Christchurch.

"It's not unusual. Stuart's basically referring to us looking at the options for the delivery of the central city project. They are ranging from being in-house with council like it currently is, through to the establishment of an urban development authority, which would have a separate board of directors. It would have an accountability back to council, and it would operate to a framework. But it would enable the expertise of the private sector to be drawn upon in developing that part of the city."

Mr Bridges confirmed government would be likely to welcome such an approach, and said new legislation making it easier for local authorities to set up such organisations was currently before parliament.

Mr Hewlett told the lunch that the city needed to be courageous. "We all know what the city needs to go from being a good city to being a great city. We know what it takes to make this an attractive place to live and work and operate in, so let's get on and do it."

See Bay of Plenty Times Weekend for full coverage of the City Leaders Lunch.