Transport report a critical step to support growth
Western Bay of Plenty leaders are welcoming the release of the Urban Form and Transport Initiative Final Report.
The report outlines an optimal land use and transport programme for the Western Bay of Plenty sub-region over the next 50 years and beyond.
The UFTI report is the result of a 12-month project led by SmartGrowth and Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, involving Tauranga City Council, Western Bay of Plenty District Council, Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, tangata whenua and community leaders.
Outlined in the Final Report is a business case and delivery plan for a Connected Centres programme which would see more homes built in existing and new growth areas, improved road networks, increased bus services, and improved walking and cycling connections developed.
Tauranga City Council Mayor Tenby Powell says over the past 12 months the SmartGrowth Leadership Group have supported the UFTI project team to develop a programme business case that will best help sustain predicted growth in the sub-region.
“Over the next 30-70 years we are expecting more than 200,000 people to be living in the western Bay of Plenty, more than 95,000 new homes to be built and two million additional daily transport movements.
“It’s critical that we plan appropriately for this growth so that we can all benefit through better access to employment, housing, transport, education, social services and green spaces, as well as the environmental benefits, such as reduced carbon emissions.
“This Connected Centres programme presents us with an opportunity to re-imagine what the future of our sub-region looks like and we are committed to a co-investment partnership with central government to follow this through.”
Bay of Plenty Regional Council Chairman Doug Leeder says SmartGrowth has been working closely and collaboratively with its government partners.
“The Government has made clear its emphasis on spatial planning as a means of better integrating land use, infrastructure and funding, as well as creating social and economic benefits — the SmartGrowth Leadership Group are absolutely on board with this,” says Leeder.
“We acknowledge that implementation of this programme will require different ways of working for both local and central government. Successfully implementing these recommendations will be key to people and communities living, working, learning and playing in the western bay and wider region."
Western Bay of Plenty District Council Mayor Garry Webber says what sets this UFTI report apart from previous reports is a commitment to include it in relevant Long Term Plans and Regional Land Transport Plans.
“This will give central government and our communities the assurance that we are committed to implementing the plans and actions outlined in the programme business case and delivery plan."
Webber says strong cities and regions are built on the movement of people and goods, so it is positive to see the report’s emphasis on increasing transport options and access across the sub-region and upper North Island.
“Maximising available land to support a multimodal transport system means we can be smart about where and how we build more homes that are affordable and easily accessible, and also ensures we can support and protect freight access to the Port of Tauranga.”
The next stage for the UFTI Final Report is inclusion in the SmartGrowth Joint Spatial Plan, from which full public consultation will be undertaken by SmartGrowth and its partner councils in the first quarter of 2021.
Tangata whenua representative Buddy Mikaere says the SmartGrowth partners have taken on board the recommendation by UFTI that an Iwi Spatial Plan be developed as part of the Joint Spatial Plan process and are committed to seeing this through.
The UFTI Final Report clearly recognises the need to work with tangata whenua and better understand their aspirations when planning for the future use and development of land in the sub-region.
“Local tangata whenua will have the chance to feed into this plan as part of the formal consultation and engagement process in early 2021."
SmartGrowth Chair Bill Wasley says this is a unique programme of work for the western Bay of Plenty and the SmartGrowth partners are excited to kick off the next stage of its development.
“We are committed to continuing our unified approach to ensure key projects planned for the sub-region over the next 10 years are aligned and enable us to take a broader and more long-term approach to the overall wellbeing of our different communities.”
Read the UFTI Final Report here.