The failure of Western Bay councils to collaborate enough on sub-regional transport issues has been holding the sub-region back, leaders have admitted.

At a Smartgrowth leadership group meeting on Friday, mayors and representatives of Tauranga City, Western Bay of Plenty District and Bay of Plenty Regional councils agreed to move quickly to create a joint "urban form and transport initiative".

Western Bay of Plenty district Mayor Garry Webber said the initiative's first priority was to present a "unified front" about the region's need for more highway funding to NZ Transport Agency decision-makers during a summit in Tauranga on September 25.

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Bay of Plenty Regional Council elected member Stuart Crosby said the initiative was also a recognition that the area had "lost momentum" on transport in recent years.

While some good planning work had been done, a lot of it had happened in silos and there were gaps, he said.

"We weren't as interconnected as we should have been.

"We need to refresh what we do and rebuild our relationships in Wellington, which have faltered in recent years.

"We are committed to getting our momentum back and addressing key issues. Having all the stakeholders in the room agreeing to do it together gives me confidence that we will get back on track."

The decisions happened in a public session that followed a public-excluded workshop meeting.