Sports fields, schools and further investigations into transport choices are at the forefront of Tauranga City councillors' mind following a planning study of the Welcome Bay and Ohauiti area.
Tauranga City Council announced in an emailed statement that the study, which explored whether additional residential growth was feasible in the area, as well as the infrastructure needs plus options and costs required to accommodate different levels of growth, was completed.
Based on the study, councillors agreed on a way forward with several projects to support the existing community.
These include further investigations into transport choice and connectivity, working with the Ministry of Education on schooling provision, exploring options for sports fields and the upgrade of the Welcome Bay Community Hall and Centre, council said in the statement.
Councillors also approved more detailed work with landowners on additional housing in Upper Ohauiti.
Council's general manager of strategy and growth, Christine Jones, said while the study found it was not feasible to zone further residential land in the Welcome Bay area, the council was committed to working with the communities to improve the area for current and future residents.
"The study provides clear guidance around the amount of additional housing that can be accommodated in Welcome Bay and Ohauiti. We will continue to work with landowners, community groups and tangata whenua on infrastructure improvements," Jones said.
"The study recommendations confirm various actions to be progressed through current and future council projects, such as the Tauranga City Plan review and the transport system plan."
Subject to positive outcomes of discussions with relevant landowners and preliminary investigations, the structure planning and rezoning of the identified Upper Ohauiti growth area within the Tauranga City boundary would progress through the Tauranga City Plan review, Jones said.
"We will also engage with Māori Land Trusts in the area about future land use aspirations, and consider the provision of commercial land in the area through the Tauranga City Plan review.
"The transport system plan, in combination with structure planning of Upper Ohauiti, will allow us to explore more options to improve transport choice and connectivity in the area."
About the study and its findings
Council has conducted the study of the Welcome Bay and Ohauiti area given the growth pressures facing these suburbs and the wider city.
The first stage of the study identified properties which could be suitable for urban development. The now completed second stage explored infrastructure capacity.
The study looked at how, and at what cost, it would be possible to provide for residential growth with water, stormwater and wastewater connections and roading upgrades.
It also looked at the need for schools and community facilities and more retail and commercial land to support residential growth, as well as current residents.
The study assessed the capacity of infrastructure and services to cope with the demand from three population growth scenarios: business as usual, moderate and high growth.
It found that most infrastructure and services could be upgraded or extended to cope with population growth. This would require additional budget to be allocated in council's long-term planning and detailed assessments of any land proposed for rezoning and development.
However, the study found that the road network around Welcome Bay Rd would not function well if additional traffic was generated due to significant residential growth.
The effects of growth on traffic congestion were modelled for three options: a ring road south of Welcome Bay and Ohauiti, a bypass around the most congested part of Welcome Bay Road and an east-west link road between Welcome Bay, Poike and Oropi.
While the east-west link road option performed best, further analysis found it was unfeasible due to high cost, numerous environmental effects, and the likelihood that it won't solve congestion entirely.
In conclusion, taking the technical assessments and modelling into account, significant new housing development in Welcome Bay is unfeasible unless solutions to traffic congestion can be found, the study said.
Recommendations to address the findings of the study were discussed and endorsed by council today.
Source: Tauranga City Council