Western Bay of Plenty District Council has applied for funding for a crucial piece of the infrastructure jigsaw to allow development of Rangiuru Business Park to go ahead.

An application for $20 million has been made to central government's Provincial Growth Fund.

Western Bay mayor Garry Webber says two or three months of work went into the application, which has now been accepted.

''You've got to make sure there's a good business case there. We've worked with Waikato, other councils including the Eastern Bay council, to make sure it's complementary and not competitive with anybody,'' he says.


The interchange would provide access to the business park site from the Tauranga Eastern Link.

''Once we get the interchange funded, that will allow development [of the park]. We are pretty hopeful that some time between now and Christmas we will hear.''

Te Puke Economic Development Group CEO Mark Boyle says preliminary work on the business park development and attracting businesses are well advanced.

''The demand and interest in Rangiuru continues to grow and this critical piece of infrastructure will get it over the line,'' he says.

Garry says the continued development of the Tauriko industrial area in Tauranga shows Rangiuru will be a success.

''If you go back 15 years, the next lot of industrial land to be filled [after Tauriko] was Rangiuru because once Tauriko got filled, there wasn't a lot of industrial land. That's where it is getting to now, because Tauriko is nearly full.''

Garry and Mark recently met Parliamentary Under Secretary to the Minister for Regional Development, NZ First MP Fletcher Tabuteau.

''We spent a lot of time talking to him about how the kiwifruit industry is continuing on and what we are hopeful will come through by way of some support for the interchange,'' says Garry.


''He's aware there is an application in to the Provincial Growth Fund. We've just got to be patient and wait for it to go through the process.''

Discussions about the kiwifruit industry focused on continued growth and the impact that will have on Te Puke.

''If all this [growth] happens in the current pack houses, it's going to continue to put pressure on our roads. We need to start thinking about where does the kiwifruit industry go over the next 10 years.''

Garry also took the opportunity to talk about possible changes to the government's rates rebate subsidy, something the council has been lobbying for for a number of years. The subsidy is available to those on low incomes to assist with rates payments.

''For the last 20 years, that programme has not kept pace with inflation and modern indexing,'' says Garry.

Currently the maximum subsidy is $620 and the income threshold for being able to apply is less than $26,000.

''If you look at the subsidy, it should be raise by about 50 per cent and those who are eligible should be on an income below just under $40,000.

''More people should be eligible and we are of the view as a council that that's what central government should be looking at.''

The council has succeeded in persuading Local Government New Zealand to include the issue in its lobbying plans.