This post sets out our recent submission to Tauranga City Council as part of the annual plan.
Our submission addresses 3 main areas:
- Transport and urban form – relating to UFTI
- Engagement practice
- Climate change.
Transport and urban form (and UFTI)
The region’s Councils and NZTA (via Smartgrowth) are embarking on the UFTI strategic process.
We understand that the intent of this is to bring together all related transport and urban form work, and develop a comprehensive plan for the sub-region
A. Scope of UFTI and importance of implementation.
We are very supportive of the collaborative approach proposed by UFTI, however there are a number of important factors which we think are unclear or missing.
- How UFTI develops and delivers on a broader vision for the sub region (and particularly for Tauranga City),
- How it communicates, engages and SELLS this vision to the community, and;
- How it implements key foundational elements, such as intensification, and what policies/incentives/mechanisms will be used and created to deliver this.
We think there are a number of real risks, which must be addressed concurrently with the transport/urban form plan that UFTI is developing over the next year. These are:
- That the community will not be on board with the UFTI proposal and there will be no mandate for change. Hence the critical need for education, communication and engagement.
- That Council lacks the internal capability and skills to implement the required changes. This particularly applies to the formation of a Development Office (discussed below).
We think UFTI needs to sit within a broader approach starting with a clear vision, as per the diagram below. The implementation part is of critical importance. For example, we firmly believe that Council needs to demonstrate and LEAD the development of apartment living, to provide anchor/exemplar projects (eg in the CBD). In this regard, a Development Office proposal is recommended (see below).
Figure 1: A comprehensive approach to implementing UFTI
B. Development Office: We suggest TCC set up a Development Office (DO) (similar to Panuku in Auckland) to drive CBD and retail centre (eg Bayfair, Tauriko) intensification. This is needed to kickstart a market for apartment development as currently the local market is very much focussed on single-storey greenfields housing. The DO will help ensure UFTI’s plan is actually a success – as a well-functioning multi-modal transport network depends on compact city zones being delivered.
- This would create some much needed momentum and action on intensification.
- This can also capture and align vision for CBD amenity and attractiveness via other projects (Memorial Park walkway, train station etc)
- The DO can act as a broker between Developers and CBD land owners to enable land acquisition – esp on major Council upgrade projects such as Elizabeth St.
- The DO could look to incentivise/partner/part fund anchor projects.
- The DO should look at policies and incentives (remove barriers) –
- The DO could also:
- Assist with upskilling designers, developers and builders.
- Improve and streamline process for intensification.
- Contain or have access to urban design expertise (eg Urban Design Panel)
- Engage with community and stakeholders.
- It is vital that the DO be resourced with highly specialised and capable staff, which we think will need to be brought in specifically for certain roles.
C. Regional passenger trains: While we understand UFTI will involve working with Kiwirail and the Port, we encourage them (and TCC) to urgently investigate joining with the Hamilton-Auckland planning being undertaken for passenger rail. There will be synergies if the planning is done now, in a holistic manner, rather than considering Tauranga as an ‘add-on’ at a later date.
D. Local trains: There are real opportunities for local train services that we hope UFTI will investigate. These include commuter services on existing rail between, for example, Omokoroa and Te Puna.
E. Cycling: We strongly support commuter cycling projects and understand these will be considered within UFTI, building on TCC’s Cycle Action Plan which has demonstrated the strong community desire for a safe separated cycle network.
F. Buses: In addition to the focus on public transport that UFTI will have, we urge TCC to advocate for projects that are urgent, now, and will demonstrate early success for a multi modal transition. The most obvious of these is the bus lane required from Bayfair to Hewletts Road. This has been discussed with TCC in the past, and we urge TCC to take this up with NZTA with urgency, as it needs to link in with the current construction.
We encourage TCC to adopt a much more inclusive and transparent approach to engagement with communities and key stakeholders. In this regard, we suggest:
- That TCC develop a clear and consistent policy for engagement, and make this clearly known to all stakeholders.
- That this policy promote engagement early for key projects, and that this continue through planning, design and construction.
- There are many examples of best practice that TCC could follow – including citizen juries, social labs etc. The International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) process is a good example, and we would advocate for ‘collaboration’ as per the diagram below.
Figure 2: Levels of participation (IAP2).
The impacts of climate change are being felt by local government and its communities now. Those changes include rising sea levels and changes in rainfall and temperature patterns. These changes can also lead to gradual impacts such as groundwater rise, or salt water intrusion, or more frequent extreme weather event impacts, such as coastal or inland flooding.
Climate change poses far-reaching and unprecedented levels of risk to New Zealand’s natural and built environment. Reducing carbon emissions, and adapting to the challenges and opportunities of climate change is a significant issue for all of New Zealand, and demands that local government, central government, business and property owners think about how the investments they make contribute to low carbon, adaptive and resilient responses.
- TCC should develop a climate change mitigation strategy and work out how they can influence carbon reduction meaningfully, in conjunction with all other regional stakeholders (an integrated plan). They should also develop a climate change adaptation plan, that links into natural hazard resilience.
- Climate mitigation (reducing emissions) should be a core guiding principle when TCC are making all important decisions – especially relating to the form and function of the city.