Tauranga City Council, Ngāti Hangarau and Tourism Bay of Plenty have worked together to established a co-design plan which aims to create safe access to the Omanawa Falls.
There is currently no public access to Omanawa Falls and access to the bottom of the falls has never been open to the public.
In recent years and in spite of closed gates and warning signs, several people have been injured at the falls and a man died there in January.
Features of the largely agreed design include a viewing platform, upgraded track, as well as supporting infrastructure such as carparking and public toilets.
Tauranga City Council director of spaces and places Paul Dunphy said it was significant to reach an agreed co-design with Ngāti Hangarau who were equal partners in creating physically and culturally appropriate access.
The next step is to apply for resource consent.
"We expect to apply for resource consent in April 2021," he said.
"This will outline all the key aspects of the project, particularly in regard to the design, timeline and the level of activity anticipated after the project is complete. We will also be talking to local Omanawa residents who are directly affected by this development as part of this consultation and engagement process.
"We remain committed to reopening the Omanawa Falls but only when it is safe to do so, with full consideration being given to the historical, cultural and environmental significance of this special site.
"Until this time, please do not visit this location. If you hear of a friend planning to go, please tell them not to visit as it is incredibly dangerous.
"Multiple people have seriously injured themselves to the extent they have required search and rescue services and there has sadly been two fatalities."
To ensure people are aware of the dangers, the track closure is clearly signposted to visitors.
Commissioners recently approved the budget allocation for the Omanawa Falls project of $3.5 million to go into the draft 2021-2031 Long Term Plan.
• Late 2019 project group established
• 2020 developed and agreed project scope
• Second half 2020 began design process
• Dec 2020 Kaitiaki/educators began at Omanawa Falls front entrance
• Early 2021 agree and share design
• April 2021 seek necessary consents for site development
• 2021 begin construction
- Supplied content