Rotorua‘s Long-term Plan proposals revealed

The council is dedicated to completing the place-shaping projects, including Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa - Rotorua Museum.

A possible end to the famous Rotovegas motel strip, a $7500 charge on new developments and a total yearly spend of $1.13m on community safety.

These are all part of a potential future for Rotorua laid out in Rotorua Lakes Council’s Draft 2021-2031 Long-term Plan (LTP), released to the public today.

The public can provide feedback on the document until April 30 at 4pm.

The consultation document proposes to “enhance the consenting processes” to speed up development, and create a development support manager role to “coordinate relationships between [the] council and developers”.

It proposes “consolidating tourism accommodation” on Fenton St into the CBD.

In the introduction to the document, Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick says there's much to be proud of in Rotorua, but there are some things the public is not proud of.

Those concerns included housing, community safety, economic recovery, resilient infrastructure and climate change, she wrote.

“We will unlock land for housing and commercial development and we will invest in core infrastructure … we are dedicated to completing the place-shaping projects.”

Those projects included the Rotorua Lakefront, Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa - Rotorua Museum, the forest redevelopments and the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre.

The document also signalled “future conversations” outside the LTP process, which included the possibility of rates remissions in the inner city to incentivise office, retail or residential development in certain parts.

It revealed the council is also considering an additional kerbside collection service for organic and green waste.

It stated part of the council’s proposal to confront land development challenges was to “accelerate 2000 new home builds” and “enable 3000 sections coming to market” as well as two new inner-city apartment buildings.

One map shows much of the southern CBD zoned high-density residential and the area north of Marguerita St - where the Arawa Park racecourse is - made into “residential accommodation with large amounts of open space”.

The document also discusses a development contribution policy aimed at alleviating the cost of infrastructure for new developments.

Initial considerations on the policy included when to charge the proposed $7500 per property and to whom - the developer or homeowner.

The document also proposed three options for the Rotorua aquatic centre - the council’s preferred option, according to the document, is one that would cost a total of $28.3m.

That would include a range of new facilities including a bombing pool and a cafe and would mean a contribution from the council of nearly $18m.

The council will seek further funding from external partners to assist in funding a hydro-slide and fitness centre.

That option, in isolation, would increase rates by $8.09 per individual each year.

An $8m option would see the replacement of the pool hall roof, ventilation and safety improvements and painting the changing rooms.

Under the LTP proposal, $424m would be allocated over the 10 years for core infrastructure and a capital expenditure of $732m. Debt would increase by $181m - within debt limits.

The document stated the council expected staff costs - including for elected members - to rise by $10m over the 10 years, and subsidies - usually from central government - to drop from $72m in 2021 to $13m in 2030.

Council staff members were unavailable for an on the record interview for this article.

Rotorua Lakes Council approved the LTP for consultation on Thursday last week, but did not release it to the public for four days, with a council spokeswoman stating last week this was a process council needed to go through with auditors to have the document ready for the public.

On Monday, Tauranga City Council commissioners released its draft LTP ahead of a final auditor’s report.

Public feedback on the council’s draft LTP is open now until April 30 at 4pm.

Feedback can be provided online via the council’s Let’s Talk platform on its website, in written form at the council or at face-to-face events throughout April.

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