Tauranga is set to get a multimillion-dollar emergency co-ordination centre in the CBD.
The Bay of Plenty Regional Council has budgeted $2.5 million to fit out the vacant half of the third level of its offices at Regional House with a new Civil Defence Group emergency co-ordination centre.
The Tauranga City Council's latest building consent report showed a consent valued at $1.6m was issued for the partial fit-out at the Regional House on Elizabeth St.
The fit-out includes upgrades to the egress route - emergency escape route - extension of existing mechanical, fire safety systems and electrical hydraulic services and associated structural upgrades.
It was part of 22 commercial building consents issued in October for a total value of $16,908,620.
A total of $22.6m was spent on a refurbishment project to upgrade the Regional House, which was originally built in 1986. The refurbishment was completed in early 2020.
The council's corporate general manager Mat Taylor said the regional council had a responsibility to provide the region with an emergency coordination centre.
Taylor said the emergency co-ordination centre is where the Bay of Plenty Civil Defence Emergency Management group controller can coordinate a regional response to emergency events.
The council previously planned for the Wallingford House, next door to the Regional House, to be demolished to make way for a new purpose-built emergency coordination centre when the upgrade was complete, he said.
However, Taylor said the cost to demolish the existing earthquake-prone building and build a new facility received in early 2020 was estimated to be $8.5m.
"The significant cost led to a review of the project to see whether a more cost-effective solution was achievable."
Taylor said the December 2020 decision to have the emergency co-ordination centre inside the Regional House resulted in a $6m saving compared to the original Wallingford House design.
The regional council funds these projects via the funding it receives from its investment income – particularly in Quayside Holdings Limited – which makes up 24 per cent of its funding and ratepayers currently contribute 33 per cent of its total funding.
The 1986-built Regional House was in need of a lot of work prior to being refurbished, he said.
"Systems such as the air conditioning and joinery were failing and there were major issues with weather tightness.
"Council also wanted to improve its customer interface for the public and create a more efficient workplace with greater interaction between individuals and teams within the organisation by moving to an open-plan working environment."
Taylor said the emergency co-ordination centre was staffed by regional council employees during large-scale events "so the proximity to these people is hugely efficient".
Taylor said it also meant other Civil Defence Emergency Management partner agencies were able to access the emergency coordination centre to support any emergency event response, not just civil defence events.
"It provides a realistic and dedicated training environment for staff involved in emergency management."
Minor works to improve the use of outdoor spaces on the rooftop car park were also being planned, he said.
Bay of Plenty Civil Defence Emergency Management Group chairman David Love said the new coordination centre "has to be good news" for Tauranga.
When the Rena grounded in October 2011, Love said an emergency co-ordination centre was set up first at Classic Flyers and was later moved to an empty building in the Tauranga CBD.
Love said they had to "cobble together" in a room when Whakaari/White Island erupted in December 2019, which was "not ideal".
"When you have an emergency, the last thing you want to do is waste time..." he said.
"Our one job at the end of the day is to save lives."
"The most difficult period in an emergency is the first few hours before you can put together a system that helps everybody."
It was also looking at buying a Civil Defence emergency vehicle, he said.
Love said it was time for Tauranga to have its own dedicated emergency co-ordination centre.
"We're seeing there are more and more emergencies than we've ever had before. We've had the Rena grounding, White Island eruption and the Edgecumbe floods.
"People are beginning to wake up, they haven't experienced these catastrophes before."
Bay of Plenty Regional Council chairman Doug Leeder said it was a "complementary spend" on the recent refurbishment.
Leeder said the original plan to demolish the Wallingford House proved too expensive.
"We were looking at opportunities to be frugal and use the space we have got."
Construction on the new emergency co-ordination centre will begin in December 2021 and is due to be completed by April 2022.
Grace Hospital's $50 million redevelopment moves forward
The $50 million redevelopment of Tauranga's private hospital is another step closer to completion.
Tauranga City Council's latest building consent report showed a consent valued at $2.1m was issued for two new operating theatres at Grace Hospital.
General manager Janet Keys said the hospital was partway through a $50m campus redevelopment that was set to add a whole new wing of theatres and hospital facilities to its Cheyne Rd site.
So far, the exterior shell of the building was complete and one of the new operating theatres opened last year.
The next stage is outfitting two other shell theatres. Construction starts this week.
"The new theatres will mean there is capacity for hundreds more additional surgeries to be performed in Tauranga each year.
"These theatres will be outfitted with the latest world-class technology..."
Keys said the previous stage, managed by main contractor Fosters Construction, had more than 350 people and 35 sub-contractors in the Bay of Plenty working on the project.
"An additional 20 staff will also be needed to be employed by Grace Hospital, as well as increased operating sessions for specialists."
Keys said the campus redevelopment was initiated to meet the increased demand for elective surgeries in Tauranga.
"The growing Bay of Plenty population is a major factor in this.
"However, demand for surgeries was exacerbated recently due to delayed surgeries because of lockdown - although Grace is currently successfully working their way through waitlists."
The current stage of the redevelopment, including the two additional theatre fit-outs, was set for completion in March 2022, however, Keys said further development was planned.
The two theatres were planned to be available for surgery in June next year.
"It's gratifying that the company's shareholders, Evolution Healthcare and Southern Cross Healthcare, recognise the need for ongoing investment in our region.
"It has always been our focus to provide people in the Bay of Plenty with care of the highest quality and the best possible working environment for our medical teams."
Regional House refurbishment timeline
2009: Council buys Regional House
2015: Refurbishment budget set at $20m
2017: Refurbishment work begins, demolition
2018: Construction begins
September 2019: Wraps come off
November 2019: Staff move in
2020: Front entrance finished and Regional Council begins holding meetings in refurbished chambers
2021: Consent issued for new Civil Defence Group Emergency Coordination Office
Source: Bay of Plenty Regional Council
Building consents - October
Major consent applications issued value over $1m
Papamoa Beach Rd
Erect retaining wall and the subsequent reconstruction of the access way.
721 Grenada St
Construct nine single-level two-bedroom dwellings with attached single garages.
Units 39-40 (1/2). Units 41-43 (1/3). Units 44-45 (1/2). Units 46-47 (1/2)
20 Kaweroa Drive
Erect Industrial Storage units .
191 Te Ranga Memorial
Construct two-storey, three-bedroom main dwelling with attached single garage and an attached two-bedroom, minor dwelling with attached single garage with masonry retaining walls.
54 Unutoto Place
Stage 1 Consent - Proposed Warehouse Canopy.
123 Lakes Boulevard
Construct two-storey, five-bedroom dwelling with attached double garage and retaining walls.
11 Matakokiri Drive
Construct a 900 sq m showroom without door showroom/display area for motorbike/jetski business.
88 Westridge Drive
Addition to existing dwelling. Add to and reconfigure layout of dwelling including new eastern wing. Exterior reclad. Replacement of existing onsite septic system. Install GD8 1600 Exposed solid fuel.
281 Cheyne Rd
To fitout the 'building shell" with two new operating theatres - OT89 and associated support spaces at ground level. The "shell" as formed previously under consent number BC190236.
1 Elizabeth St
Partial fitout to level 3 of Regional House. Includes upgrades to the egress route, extension of existing services (mechanical, fire safety systems, electrical hydraulic) and associated structural upgrades.
Source: Tauranga City Council