Redevelop Forum North, build on the nearby RSA site or develop new premises in the city centre.

Those are the options for a new civic centre in Whangarei which could cost up to $37 million.

Whangarei District Council is asking the district's residents which one they prefer as part of consultation on the 2018-2028 Long Term Plan.

With $7 million of debt funding already allocated in this year's Annual Plan, a further $30 million is budgeted in the Long Term Plan between 2018 and 2020 for the civic centre.

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The new centre would be between 5000sq m and 5500sq m to allow for 350 staff and elected councillors and space to expand in the future.

The council purchased the RSA site in 2017, and is considering building a new civic centre on it. Photo / Michael Cunningham
The council purchased the RSA site in 2017, and is considering building a new civic centre on it. Photo / Michael Cunningham

The draft plan suggests the council could lease out the extra space until needed. The centre would house a council chambers - complete with good acoustics, a layout for live streaming, and use for general public meetings - and the Civil Defence Emergency Operations Centre.

The new civic centre would not include a theatre. Funding has been allocated elsewhere in the plan towards a new theatre, which would require external funding as well and would likely complement rather than replace the Capitaine Bougainville Theatre.

The consultation document sets out the pros and cons of each option which would bring council staff together under one roof. At the moment staff are spread across Forum North and Walton Plaza.

Corporate general manager Alan Adcock said it cost the council about a million a year to house staff at Walton Plaza.

A yet to be identified site in Whangarei's CBD could be home to a new civic centre. Photo / Tania Whyte
A yet to be identified site in Whangarei's CBD could be home to a new civic centre. Photo / Tania Whyte

Council chief executive Rob Forlong said the two sites were minutes walk from each other.

"The lost productivity is significant, and it causes confusion between customers."

While Forum North is already well established as a civic precinct, the age and design of the buildings mean the cost per square metre to refurbish would be higher than a new building. Staff would have to move out for 18 months while the work is done.

Developing new offices on the RSA site, which the council bought last year, would keep the civic centre in same area and complement the library and public space.

However, there is little room for expansion, or additional parking.

The third option is to develop a new premises in the city centre, possibly in conjunction with the private development of a hotel and/or conference centre.

Mr Forlong said putting 300-plus people in town would help shops and "encourage other people into town".

Both of the latter options mean Forum North could be used for something else, such as education, commercial offices or partially demolished for parking or a new performing arts centre.

The council doesn't own a site in town, so that would affect the budget and the council would need to consider the impacts on parking.

A host of other projects are in the plan including upgrading Riverside Dr and finding a new spot for the airport.

"Lots of people had the chance to tell us what they wanted, the next things is for the public to say if we have got it right," Mr Forlong said.

Consultation on the Long Term Plan is open until April 8. Some public meetings have already been held, and more are scheduled for the rest of the month.

A Have Your Say event will be held on April 5.

Hearings are set down for April 20.

Council staff will have a stand at the Growers Market on Saturday mornings, and businesses can request the council staff to make a presentation at their workplace.

People can also view the plan, check the meeting times and have their say on www.heretowhere.co.nz.


Other significant projects:

The plan contains a capital expenditure programme of $724 million. Some of the other projects to be funded include:

Seal extensions $5.4m
Stormwater renewals $33.8m
New airport evaluation $4.2m
Riverside Drive upgrade $24.6m
Sports field land purchases $14.2m
Community-led development $4.5m
New theatre $10.5m
Walking and cycling infrastructure $15.8m
Sealed road resurfacing $50.1m
Sealed road rehabilitation $47.7m