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Tauranga plan submissions jockey for position

Opposing Long Term Plan submissions have been made regarding the future of Tauranga Racecourse Reserve. Photo: John Borren/SunLive.

Tauranga Racecourse Reserve has once again become the subject of a tug-of-war between those that wish to see the site repurposed for housing and a team looking to finally secure its future as one of New Zealand’s favourite facilities.

Opposing submissions were registered with Tauranga City Council ahead of their Long Term Plan deadline earlier this month – a process aimed at ironing out budgets and cementing plans for the next decade.

And not for the first time, the Cameron Road site in Greerton has divided opinion.

Its inclusion in council’s Te Papa Spatial Plan in September last year saw the Crown-owned Reserve, which includes neighbouring Tauranga Golf Club, name-checked as a “key project” presenting “opportunities for other uses such as comprehensively-developed housing”.

Among the voices both for and against such proposals were former TCC councillor Heidi Hughes, who backed plans to regenerate the 34ha site, and Racing Tauranga chairman Carl McComb, who was vehemently opposed to any future development and subsequent relocation of the racecourse.

Both have now thrown their weight behind submissions that are directly opposed when it comes to the long-standing future of the Reserve, which has been home to horseracing in Tauranga in one guise or another since 1873.

A coalition of stake holders in the Tauranga Recreation Ground and Racecourse Reserve, including Racing Tauranga, Ngai Tamarawaho and Tauranga Golf Club, has placed a 12-page submission before council outlining its background and historical context.

“The purpose of this submission is to confirm this land is preserved in perpetuity for use as intended, as a recreational reserve to be enjoyed by the inhabitants of Tauranga city, its wider environs and Tangata Whenua,” it reads.

“The land has strong cultural and historical connections to Tauranga and forms a cornerstone to the heritage of the community and represents a substantial investment as part of Tauranga’s recreational and amenity resources.”

The document goes on to urge council to reconsider its inclusion in the Spatial Plan, and encourages the authorities to “remove any reference that describes the land as anything other than a permanent and historically significant reserve for public amenity purpose”.  

In contrast, Heidi Hughes’ submission argues the opposite, heralding Tauranga Racecourse as “an ideal location for a new community,” and calling it the “best greenfield opportunity in Tauranga to fast-track much-needed homes”.

It also outlines objectives that would deliver “around 1800 new homes with space for an intermediate and high school”.

“This community would be surrounded by park/golf course with easy access to existing amenities, employment and transport connections,” it says.

Submitted under the name Greater Tauranga, the plan – which forms part of a larger document titled Five Projects Towards a Sustainable City – then suggests that council should “begin work immediately with Tauranga Racecourse and government to investigate the location of a new regional racing and rural multi-activity venue”.

“This isn’t about demonising racing, it’s all about solving a housing crisis,” Heidi tells The Weekend Sun. “I know there’s two sides to this, and I completely respect their history and absolutely understand why they’re digging their toes in.

“I have nothing against the racecourse or the racing community – this is to do with the reality of the opportunity that sits within that site. In my view it’s a rural activity that has inadvertently become placed in the middle of our city.

“This is an enormous opportunity for something purpose-built and exciting for the racing community, and something that is future-proofed. I’m no racing expert, but people have discussed Paengaroa because it’s rural, close to Te Puke and on a rail line which has a future for passenger rail.

“There’s the opportunity to develop the racecourse site, and by doing that you would accelerate all sorts of things that would easily bring us up to 3000-4000 houses within the next 10 years.”

One of the stand-out components of the Racecourse Reserve’s submission, however, points to the level of investment that has already been poured into the site from a racing perspective as well as the golf course and Tauranga Equestrian Sports Association.

Wider facilities also contribute by way of the Event Centre housed within the racing club’s buildings, with community events, conferences, trade shows and seminars racking up an annual attendance of 100,00 on top of the 12 race meetings held each year.

“What we have currently is an invaluable venue with a long list of varied and invested users,” says Carl. “It is a vital piece of Tauranga’s make-up and an irreplaceable facility in our city.

“The upkeep of the Reserve is fully funded by the users - not a cent of council money contributes to this.

“We very much see ourselves as an asset both to the racing community as well as the wider community here in the Bay of Plenty - a self-funded asset.

“This city already has a significant shortage of venues, and there’s no way we should be considering the loss of another for what we see as quick-fix housing.

“There’s still lots to resolve, but we feel reassured that the right decision will be made. Hopefully the cultural and historical significance of the Reserve is recognised when hearings begin, and the right decision is made.”

Submission hearings are now underway and will last until the end of this week, with deliberations set to begin from Monday, June 21.

The 2021-31 Long Term Plan will then be adopted by July 30.

 

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12 Comments
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@Murray Guy

Posted on 20-06-2021 15:20 | By morepork

I agree with what you wrote 100%.

Given that...

Posted on 20-06-2021 15:19 | By morepork

...our Democracy is quietly and secretively being destroyed, we are unlikely to see a referendum on this. Without a referendum, Council will do whatever they decide they want to do, so any "consultations" or "engagement" with the public is pointless, because whatever you say will be ignored. The same Committee, appointed by the same Minister who removed the right to a referendum on Maori Wards, will take the Racecourse if it suits them and there will be nothing you or I can do about it. Citizens and Ratepayers no longer have any say in what happens to our City and it is naive to believe otherwise.

Happy to be a lone voice

Posted on 19-06-2021 17:09 | By

Lots of comments about green space, but try having a picnic or walking the dog on one of the fairways or around the fenced area early in the morning. We’re talking about people not wanting to move their hobbies to the outskirts of town where land is more readily available for non-housing uses. The availability of services (water, sewage and electricity) is easier and less expensive to access for housing development and I’ve yet to see a new development that doesn’t have a requirement for green space and playground area for children. Your reasoning against a modern well thought out housing development doesn’t hold much weight. It’s only green space for those that pay to use it.

SORRY -

Posted on 18-06-2021 21:58 | By The Caveman

It’s GREEN space in a CITY where such space is shrinking far too fast. It should be KEEP as GREEN SPACE - yes racecourse and golf space. !!!

WTF

Posted on 18-06-2021 14:52 | By philiphallen

Why doesn’t the ex-councillor keep her bloody nose out of our green field amenities. Tauranga is full, so build more houses elsewhere.

What about the roads ????

Posted on 18-06-2021 13:45 | By FRANKS

Despite what the vocal minority think there would be a substantial increase in cars ( not bicycles ) in the area. The roads cant cope now so I would like to see an explanation of how this would work ???

More housing needed...

Posted on 18-06-2021 12:37 | By

...but not on Tauranga race course. Find somewhere else. There’s plenty of space for both.

Enough already!

Posted on 18-06-2021 12:22 | By Blasta

Tauranga’s too full of houses already! Roads OVER capacity (look at Greerton already!). ENOUGH ALREADY!

The meeting has totally ignored

Posted on 18-06-2021 12:05 | By SML

other stakeholders - those who live in residential properties between Chadwick Road and Barkes Corner, and who already have to contend with highly inadequate roading in the area. We have bum,per-to-bumper traffic daily, compounded on racedays - but how much WORSE that would be if there were the proposed 5000 residences on this publicly owned land! There IS no other access than via the Cameron Road accesswway, and no way for other access onto SH29A or the expressway. What are these people thinking?? 5000 houses/residential units means probably another 10,000 cars! Think, planners, THINK!!

Other Options

Posted on 18-06-2021 12:01 | By

I think it would be a real shame to lose these facilities due to TCC’s failures to future proof the availability of land for future housing development. TCC had banked on Tauriko West & Te Tumu proceeding which has now backfired on them. I agree that we have a severe housing shortage in Tauranga, but once you lose these types of facilities they are gone forever as there are no other cost effective solutions to move them elsewhere. I would prefer to see TCC looking at the option of redeveloping their land at the corner of Joyce Road & Pyes Pa Road for future housing development which is a far bigger site and currently being utilised a farm rather than for recreational use which it was initially purchased for. The other option is to utilise this land for its purpose being community sporting & recreational facilities in Pyes Pa.

Hmmm

Posted on 18-06-2021 11:49 | By

Seems like hobbies hold a great deal of sway over the development of a city.

Parasites for profit, environmental pillage.

Posted on 18-06-2021 10:56 | By Murray.Guy

We are surrounded by ’under-utilised, vacant residential land’, EG: Tauriko, Smiths Farm, numerous infill opportunities and I suspect ’vested interests (selected developers)’, and parasites seek to exploit for profit our increasingly scarce green space amenities. What is appreciated about almost ANY popular city to visit, to reside in, are the parks and reserves of significance, 24/7, all year round! EG: The Christchurch Gardens - stunning. These green-space areas, Tauranga Racecourse, Golf Course, are treasures, and should be further opened up to the community, celebrated and protected - NOT replaced by concrete and bitumen!