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Options revealed for future of historic reserve land in Tauranga, home to golf course and racecourse

Housing has been included in two of the seven draft options on the table for a large block of historic reserve land in central Tauranga, currently home to a golf course and racecourse.

A new school, a destination park, and potential health services are other ideas being floated by Tauranga City Council for part of the Crown-owned land.

In five of the seven options, the racecourse will be relocated. In two of them, the golf course will be relocated. One option is to keep the status quo.

The block of land is roughly the size of 100 rugby fields and was permanently reserved as a recreation ground and racecourse in the late 1800s.

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Tauranga Racing Club leases 34ha of the reserve land.

Supplied

Tauranga Racing Club leases 34ha of the reserve land.

The council first announced in late October that the future of the reserve was under review, in partnership with Kāinga Ora.

On Wednesday, the council released seven draft options for the public to consider:

  • Option 1: Stay the way it is now (status quo)
  • Option 2: Enhanced community activity combined with racecourse, golf course and equestrian use
  • Option 3: Community spaces and active recreation combined with golf and equestrian
  • Option 4: Community spaces and active recreation destination park combined with equestrian
  • Option 5: Golf course, new homes and potentially a new school
  • Option 6: Destination park, new homes and potentially a new school
  • Option 7: Enhanced community spaces, golf course, active recreation and potential health services

Option 5 could see between 700 and 1000 new homes built on a section of the land, while option 6 could see between 1000 and 1500 new homes built.

The council said the eventual outcome – which will likely need further investigation – could be one of the seven options, a combination of the options, or something completely different.

The council is seeking feedback on the seven options from the public until the end of February 2022.

The feedback will be collated and analysed and final recommendations will be presented in March to the four-member Crown Commission that was appointed by Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta in February to act in place of Tauranga’s elected members.

A decision on the future use of the reserve land will then be made by the commissioners in April 2022.

Commission Chair Anne Tolley, at a media briefing when the review was first announced in late October, said a final decision would be made “before the commission finishes”.

Tauranga City Council Commission Chair Anne Tolley.

Chris Skelton/Stuff

Tauranga City Council Commission Chair Anne Tolley.

The commission took over all the council’s governance responsibilities in February this year, and is expected to be in place until the next local government elections in October 2022.

Stuff asked Tolley on Wednesday if a decision of this significance should be made by democratically-elected councillors, and whether it should be an election issue in October.

Her short answer was no, “because I’m not convinced, given past history, that that hard decision would be made.”

“There are some big decisions that this city should have made, could have made, and hasn’t made over the past 10-15 years, which is why we’ve got commissioners,” Tolley said.

“So we’re here to make some of those decisions so that the city can move forward.”

The council calls the project the Greerton Maarawaewae Study and says the aim is to “identify opportunities that will support wellbeing and liveability as the city continues to grow”.

“This is about good urban development outcomes and considering what is the best use for the site in the future, of which housing could be a part.”

From the get-go, both the golf club and racing club that lease the land have been adamant they do not want to see any houses on the reserve and want it to remain a green space in perpetuity.

The 85-hectare block is in the central city suburb of Greerton and is administered by the council.

The land is currently zoned as passive open space and is one of only eight scheduled sites in the city to be protected as open space and for recreation activities.

Any change to the status of the land would need to go through a significant plan change process, and it could also bring into play local hapū Ngāi Tamarāwaho, which didn’t include the reserve in its Treaty of Waitangi claim (the final settlement of which is ongoing) because the land is being used for public benefit.

The council said on Wednesday that it had received 650 pieces of feedback about the review – 100 in person at community days and in focus groups, and 550 via emails, letters, and online feedback forms, and Facebook comments.

“This input, along with technical advice, has been used to develop the seven options.”

The council said there was very strong support for keeping the city’s green spaces green and thinking about the value of open space for generations to come – “once it is gone we can’t get it back”.

There was also strong support for places for people to play – active and passive recreation spaces – and plenty of support for keeping the golf course.

The council said while there was some support for housing, there was also lots of opposition – “please don’t bury our green space in houses.”

There was some support for keeping the racecourse and the equestrian centre, and some support for relocating the two facilities.

A map showing the location of the reserve (orange border).

Supplied

A map showing the location of the reserve (orange border).

Concerns were also raised in the feedback about traffic and congestion, infrastructure not being able to support more housing, a need for more schools, and the potential for flooding on the land.

The council said nothing is going to happen immediately once an option is chosen, unless it is the status quo.

“Some of the options the study presents may require eventual relocation of one or more existing uses such as racing, golf and/or equestrian. If the option selected by the commissioners in April does include relocation of an existing user, further discussions will be undertaken directly with those organisations and user groups.”

Time will be needed for further investigations, the council said.

“The community will be kept informed – and be able to have input – as these investigations progress.”

The population of Tauranga is estimated to be more than 200,000 by 2050, according to a council report released in May this year.

Christel Yardley/Stuff

The population of Tauranga is estimated to be more than 200,000 by 2050, according to a council report released in May this year.

The seven draft options

  1. Stay the way it is now (status quo) – Racecourse, golf course, equestrian, some community use, no walking or cycling access to Kopurererua Valley.
  2. Enhanced community activity combined with racecourse, golf course and equestrian use – Racecourse, golf course, sports fields/artificial turfs within the racecourse area, possible community centre with multipurpose bookable rooms, enhanced connections to Kopurererua Valley – providing a link for cyclists and walkers, mana whenua cultural values and narratives integrated for reserve and surrounding area, reduced equestrian space.
  3. Community spaces and active recreation combined with golf and equestrian – Golf course, equestrian, a destination recreation park with outdoor courts, sports fields, artificial turfs and play space, community centre with multipurpose bookable rooms, enhanced connections to Kopurererua Valley – providing a link for cyclists and walkers, mana whenua cultural values and narratives integrated for reserve and surrounding area, racecourse relocated.
  4. Community spaces and active recreation destination park combined with equestrian – Equestrian enhanced, a destination parkland with active fitness trails, cycle-ways, pump track, barbecue areas, playground and community gardens, sports pavilion and outdoor sports fields, artificial turfs, netball, tennis, 3×3 basketball courts, community centre with multipurpose bookable rooms, enhanced connections to Kopurererua Valley – providing a link for cyclists and walkers, mana whenua cultural values and narratives integrated for reserve and surrounding, area, racecourse relocated, golf course relocated.
  5. Golf course, new homes and potentially a new school – Golf course with one hole relocated, new homes – a range of different types of houses (700-1000 new homes), enhanced connections to Kopurererua Valley – providing a link for cyclists, walkers and other green space users, mana whenua cultural values and narratives integrated for reserve and surrounding area, option for new school, option for new community centre, racecourse relocated, equestrian relocated.
  6. Destination park, new homes and potentially a new school – A destination parkland with active fitness trails, cycle-ways, pump track, barbecue areas, playground and community gardens, new homes – a range of different types of houses (1000-1500 new homes), enhanced connections to Kopurererua Valley – providing a link for cyclists, walkers, and other green space users, mana whenua cultural values and narratives integrated for reserve and surrounding area, option for new school, option for new community centre, racecourse relocated, equestrian relocated, golf course relocated.
  7. Enhanced community spaces, golf course, active recreation and potential health services – Golf course, active recreation, potential health services, community centre with multipurpose bookable rooms, enhanced connections to Kopurererua Valley – providing a link for cyclists, walkers and other green space users, mana whenua cultural values and narratives integrated for reserve and surrounding area, racecourse relocated.



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