Projects oversold and underdelivered, unfinished consultation, poor project management, bad budget reporting and vital information omissions.

These are some of the damning findings of an independent review into four controversial Tauranga City Council projects including the Greerton roading changes and the Phoenix car park transformation into an "urban space".

The city's mayor said the council would not hide from the findings, and wanted to sort the situation out.

The reviews were instigated in January at the request of elected officials and new chief executive Marty Grenfell to find out why the projects fell so far short of the community's expectations.

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Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless says the council won't hide from the findings. Photo / Andrew Warner
Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless says the council won't hide from the findings. Photo / Andrew Warner

A report by consultant Max Pedersen, a former Local Government chief executive, will be presented to the council on Tuesday.

In it, he detailed a series of failures and common issues with the projects.

Issues included poor project management and budgeting, inconsistent consultation and communication, and a culture of staff being focused on task completion rather than getting the best outcome for the community.

"There is a clear link between the culture of an organisation and its performance," Pedersen said.

"If consistently better performance is to be achieved by council staff, the culture needs to change so that the community is at the forefront of all services provided and projects that are undertaken."

In two projects - including the $2.5 million Phoenix car park transformation - he found the designs shown to the public during consultation were "unrealistic", being much more expensive than the budget available.

The budget for the new Mount Maunganui "urban space" was found to be short by 40 per cent and the design was scaled back without elected members having the opportunity for input or review.

The old Phoenix car park has been transformed into urban space Te Papa O Ngā Manu Porotakataka. Photo / File
The old Phoenix car park has been transformed into urban space Te Papa O Ngā Manu Porotakataka. Photo / File

He found, however, that the council never promised a traditional "green space".

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It was always going to be mostly concrete, but when the design was scaled back - post consultation - it had fewer areas of grass and planting to break up the hard surfaces.

Pedersen made five recommendations for change in the organisation, all of which the council reported it was acting on.

The organisation was being restructured to be more community-focused and both a culture change programme and a review of consultation and communication practices would be worked through.

The council was also revisiting the projects:


Greerton: Independent engineer hired to find ways to improve congestion.
Te Papa O Ngā Manu Porotakataka: Activating the space with events, adding amenities such as beanbags and - possibly - the a spot for Mountie, adding signage and four large native trees.
Kulim Park development: Construction halted while independent peer review of design principles conducted.
Mount Surf Club: No specific steps reported.

Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless said the council had chosen to make Pedersen's report public.

"We're not hiding from anything. Other councils would have stuck it in confidential."

He said in some cases, elected members were also in the dark about various aspects of the reviewed projects.

"We have to rely on the information that is given to us."

He expected elected officials would be questioning staff advice more closely in future.

"We do have a council in place that wants to get things right. That's why we wanted this investigation and wanted it to be in public, so we can regain trust by taking action.

"It's up to us now to sort the situation out, and make sure things are done properly in the future."

It's not the first criticism of the council by an independent reviewer this year.

Last month the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment released its report into the council's handling of building control duties in relation to the failed Bella Vista development and two other unrelated builds.

It found the council failed to follow its own processes but no evidence of systemic issues was found. The council will respond to its recommendations on Tuesday.