Council reveals Tauranga civic precinct plans

Artists impressions of the proposed civic precinct.

A museum, hotel and new civic whare form part of proposed plans to refresh Tauranga’s civic precinct with an initial costing for part of the project sitting at $270-$300 million.

The proposal will be formally presented at a council meeting on Monday where the recommendation will be to accept it.

Council has an agreement with Willis Bond to deliver the project as part of a refreshed version of the Civic Masterplan developed in 2017.

Studio Pacific Architecture have led the design process.

Shortly after Anne Tolley was appointed commission chair for Tauranga City Council, she spoke of the city needing a “defibrillator” to bring it back to life.

Speaking at a presentation on Wednesday highlighting the proposed civic masterplan refresh, she made her belief clear that these plans were integral to delivering the electric shock needed to bring central Tauranga back to life.

That is something she is hoping the civic precinct refresh will address.

“We want the heart of Tauranga to be a place where people can see themselves in,” says Anne.

“We want it to be a place they can be proud of and take their visitors and say this is the heart of Tauranga city.”

She says that when consulting for the Long-term Plan earlier this year she found residents had a range of emotions regarding the state of the city centre.

These included anger, despair, frustration and ennui, as well as “deep grief, anguish and hurt” from mana whenua over lost opportunities for the city.

“We want it to be a place they feel connected to,” says Anne.

“That somehow, it represents something in their lives. We want the civic centre to be something that the Tauranga City Council, during the time of this commission, can deliver for the people of Tauranga.”

Anne says the council will be looking at several funding methods to reduce the possible financial impact of the build on ratepayers.

Speaking to the attendees, described as the “movers and shakers” of Tauranga, Anne says she wants them to talk to people in the community to help deliver the ambitious project.

“There will be the naysayers,” she says.

“There will be people who say we can’t afford it, we shouldn't be doing it, we don't want this bit or we don’t want that bit.

“But the fifth largest city in New Zealand needs to have a heart that its people feel connected to.”

Council CEO Marty Grenfell admitted to the assembled guests that plans of this nature have been presented previously and failed to meet fruition.

However, he believes the city is currently in a unique position to deliver this proposal due to the current city leadership structure.

“The biggest difference has nothing to do with the masterplan itself,” he says.

“It’s about civic leadership and governance. This is the first time in 140 years that this city has had a different governance model at the helm. So we have an opportunity, a point in time, where we believe we can make the decisions, commit to an outcome and deliver the outcomes on the ground.”

Willis Bond director Wayne Silver says their focus and the brief from council was not only to focus on the buildings but the activities that could be encouraged in and around them. 

The development would be divided into three sections.

Site A encompassing the Willow St developments and Masonic Park, Site B the Durham St block and Site C the waterfront area.

Site A of the redevelopment proposal will see a museum and adjoining exhibition and events centre in place at the current Our Place location on Willow Street.

A Civic whare building, described as a bicultural location for democratic process to take place, will also be present.

A brand new modernised library will be erected in place of the current structure and council building. Baycourt Theatre and Tauranga Art Gallery will remain in place.

A hotel and performing arts and conference centre is proposed for the Site B development on Durham Street whilst a new wharf and wharewaka are planned to be installed at the end of Wharf Street, forming Site C.

The waterfront inclusion is one of the key changes to the original masterplan from 2017.

The changes will also impact transport in the area, with buses no longer set to use the Willow Street hub and a “detuning” of moving traffic in the streets involved part of the process.

Wayne says the area sits in the literal and metaphorical heart of the city, surrounded by the educational, recreational, shopping and commercial precincts and its rejuvenation is key to igniting Tauranga city.

“When the heart is not beating we know what happens to the natural body,” he says.

“We can see that all around with the sad state the CBD is in right now.”

He also thanked mana whenua for their input and information regarding the history of the land, suggesting their input was a major difference to the initial 2017 proposal.

“It has been one of the great pleasures of this project for me to learn the history of the land and I would encourage you if you don’t know it,” says Wayne.

“It is a remarkable story.”

A provisional projection of cost currently includes just Site A and Site C and sits at $270-$300 million.

Wayne was quick to point out this is an initial projection and a more accurate estimation may be coming down the track which will also include Site B.

A construction start date for mid-2022 is pencilled in and work will be ongoing concurrently on different sites at the same time to expedite the construction process.

Wayne says this could speed up the build by eight years, with an end date of 2028 the aim, and reduce the cost, when compared to a sequential build.

Anne says that after the council meeting on Monday staff will be tasked with returning costing analysis and options for funding by the end of February.

She confirms an amendment will be needed in the LTP and that will require community consultation.

Sharp Tudhope law partner John Gordon praised the “fantastic” plans and asked what can be done from the business community to ensure the plans go through in one stage.

“It is in the interest of the business community to have this happen because it adds value to our buildings in the city and it all grows on itself.”

What proved to be a collective concern among Wednesday’s attendees was that plans could fall by the wayside after October, when the Commission passes over Council leadership after local elections.

Anne says the Commission is working on that.

“I think we have been very open about the fact that we are doing as much as we can to embed as much as we can before we take the risks.

“Our terms of reference require us to provide an exit plan and we are in the process of doing that with the (Local Government) Minister (Nanaia Mahuta).

“That is a big part of what are the risks ahead for some of the decisions that need to be made.”

The proposal will be forwarded at Monday’s council meeting with the recommendation it is adopted.

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Posted on 05-12-2021 12:00 | By

no, the people of tauranga cannot afford a big rate increase, there is more urgent needs water, roads like cambridge rd and highway Touriko. and a few more.if it will be like the car park it will cost millions more.

Parking - Again

Posted on 03-12-2021 10:44 | By

We all know how good the engineers and rubber stampers at council are at building carparks - but where are the hordes of people going to the library/museum ( yea right ) and the "whare " whatever that is , are going to park. Made a complete mess of it once and what has changed to indicate it aint going to happen again.

What museum

Posted on 03-12-2021 07:34 | By Angels

We voted for no museum,now the ratepayers vote once again means nothing


Posted on 02-12-2021 21:46 | By

At last.

Tom Ranger

Posted on 02-12-2021 21:08 | By

$300 Million dollars...Funny... I thought they were broke. Hence the increases in forced service costs and rates...of which they said won’t cover the shortfall. Where is all this money to come from exactly? Wouldn’t it be more prudent to fix the traffic issues citywide instead of a few blocks in the CBD? Which I believe the homeless will find just as inviting as any patrons.


Posted on 02-12-2021 19:41 | By Merlin

Roads and Infrastructure?? Now that Simon Bridges has this portfolio as well as Finance hopefully he will keep an eye on this aspect


Posted on 02-12-2021 18:52 | By

Tauranga is long over being a go to for families, as usual the minority get to spend everyone else’s money, no one goes to cbd because of roading, parking and all the other malls available closer to where they live, Anne Tolley needs to get her head out of the sand and stop wasting ratepayers money on getting people to CBD and investing in roading to get people out of there. The amount of roadworks going on around town is a disruption to people’s working lives who just want to go to work and go home without spending hours in traffic every week, get museum out of your heads, still drumming on about that, let’s see the numbers of yay and nay to your stupid visions, it will be as bad as central Auckland, a wasteland costing millions for nothing.

Contributions please

Posted on 02-12-2021 15:34 | By waiknot

John Gordon from Sharp Tudhope noted this will add value to properties in the downtown area. Do these property owners intend to dig deep and assist with the cost?


Posted on 02-12-2021 12:57 | By

Great to finally some vision. Look forward to this project and the continued revitalisation of the CBD, hopefully the whingers do not stop this as usual.

Collective Concern

Posted on 02-12-2021 12:50 | By wazzock

Wow..I don’t think I have ever seen direct quotes from people in a supposedly democratic institution so clearly trying to avoid any democratic accountability for their actions. Shameful, from the commissioners, to the CEO.

A good design.

Posted on 02-12-2021 12:47 | By morepork

It looks great. Architects and designers have done a good job. The only question is "WHEN?" It is also a good point that the current Commission is a new form of Administration and MIGHT be able to make it happen, (without the squabbling and bickering of previous Councils). But notice there has been no talk of a referendum on this (ultimately...) $Billion spend... We don’t get a say in it. Expenditure this high shouldn’t be decided by a few PR meetings and/or focus groups. We DO need to upgrade the Civic Centre and this would be great, but, like ALL public expenditure, it should be PRIORITIZED, and the people should be consulted on the priorities. A list should be prepared and circulated, via mail and media. If not a referendum, at least a survey of public opinion. (Anathema to the current administration and their masters... NO Democracy here...)

Estimated cost

Posted on 02-12-2021 12:31 | By Kancho

Seems projects often run over time and cost . It’s always a concern how much it affects rates especially when a lot of things that need fixing just don’t. Debt will roll on forever and the government is increasingly in huge debt so how it pans out financially ? Looks a tad ugly to me and a museum has been unpopular. I always thought the Pioneer village would be a good place to enhance as it’s half way there for a museum. Still the way things are going the city " centre" is being avoided and set to for years to come .

And the shirt of my back

Posted on 02-12-2021 12:15 | By Makkas1313

I agree and see absolutely no benefit building a museum. . . I’m still smarting over the failed car parking building!!!

Spend money we haven't got

Posted on 02-12-2021 12:13 | By

Firstly the majority of the population was against a museum. Why is this view constantly ignored? Secondly after killing the CBD it will be hard to resurrect it. Further with al the roadworks I try to avoid going into the city. The path via Cameron Road was messed up at the Greerton roundabout, through the 15th Ave there is still no 4 lane bridge to avoid traffic jams. The way through Bethlehem is constantly jammed up. Why would you want to come into town and go through traffic jams to see the closed up shops? Thirdly, how much increase in rates would that be? They (commissioners or council) should learn not to spend money they haven’t got and then increase the rates.

Please, get overseas architects!

Posted on 02-12-2021 10:46 | By jed

Those mock-ups look like they come directly from some ugly soviet-era city. I hope they can use overseas designers-- there haven’t been any inspiring New Zealand architects since Napier was rebuilt in the 30’s.

agreed well over 1bill

Posted on 02-12-2021 10:19 | By kiwi_brat2003

And for what? People wont just go to that area because we have all these places close or ON LINE. Why pay the parking fees. The excuse for a council should have people have a vote on it because the money isn’t there.


Posted on 02-12-2021 10:09 | By

No mention of any car park? Is that a forbidden subject now.? Perhaps the structure already built may be useful as a museum


Posted on 02-12-2021 09:51 | By

We thought that such positive decisions could never be made by council. At last a chance to have a great city with a heart. A legacy for future generations. Thank you!


Posted on 02-12-2021 09:17 | By dumbkof2

note the article says up to $300 mil for part of the plan. by the time it is finished it will be $1 bil. they are determined to get a museum as well. do we get to vote on this or is it a done deal already


Posted on 02-12-2021 09:00 | By

This is rediculous, $300M of part costing ! This should never happen especially pushed by UNELECTED rubber stampers. We can’t do the basic’s of water but now we have money for this farce ?