Wake Up In A Happier, More Vibrant Neighbourhood

Vibrant neighbourhood

OPINION: We spoke about Tauranga’s need for an Urban Strategy in Bay Waka Issue 11 titled ‘Density done well’. Cities around the world are dealing with the consequences of changing population demographics and policies that have failed to effectively manage the relationships between land-use, mobility, equality and population health.

Continued population growth, not solely from immigration, but from the fact that many of us have more than two grandchildren, places an ever-increasing demand on our cities.


A stand-alone house on a sizeable section has been the traditional New Zealand family home and remains the housing aspiration of many, however affordability of this type of housing is now well beyond the reach of many. Construction costs for new housing have skyrocketed.

The price of existing housing stock has followed, and those looking for profit have driven demand even higher in the expectation that the value of their investment will continue to soar. This has exacerbated the affordability problem, not just to buy a home, but also to rent a home. In time, this has created a serious problem for many, and in time this will adversely affect everyone in one way or another.


The need to travel long distances from our homes to our places of work, education, entertainment and for other services coupled with our high reliance on the private motorcar leads to a decline in physical activity giving rise to other problems such as noise, pollution, stress and poor physical fitness.

These quickly manifest themselves as chronic (non-communicable) diseases including diabetes, cancers, cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases, mental illness, chronic pain, chronic kidney disease and dementia. When these do strike, it is often too late to think of the benefits of living in a better urban environment.


‘In 2017 community engagement on both the Tauranga Transport Programme and the Environment Strategy provided strong feedback that Tauranga needed to move toward a more compact city as a way to address environmental concerns and to address transport issues.’

Tauranga Urban Strategy Vision 2050 – now it’s up to ‘You’!

It really is, the time is now. TCC have just released its proposed urban strategy for yet more consultation. City Hall continues to be rather sheepish in the manner it is guiding our city I feel, and want your instructions to give them confidence to follow ‘international best practice’ to achieve the wondrous aspirational goals they keep telling us they have for our city.

World expert on urban development Gil Penalosa reminds us:

  • Change is not unanimous.
  • When you say “no” to something, you say “yes” to something else, and
  • Creating a great city is not a technical or financial issue; it’s an issue of political will.

The quality of our future city is now up to ‘You’. Guidance you provide through this public consultation will dictate the quality of Tauranga and its many neighbourhood communities you and future generations will experience.

A Compact City

‘The proposed strategy contains the city’s aspirations for how we focus growth within the existing urban area, increase the density of housing in new urban areas, while also improving housing choice, accessibility, vibrant centres and connected neighbourhoods and a quality-built environment that complements our stunning natural environment’.

Civic leaders have spoken about the need to create a ‘compact city’ for many years, mayors have come and gone, we have worked collaboratively with neighbours (Smartgrowth), and it might not be unreasonable to suggest that little more than words have been created so far. A well planned compact city or brown field densification always results in a greater choice in housing style, costs, and a safer more vibrant city.

What Could This look Like?

Take time out of your busy schedule to view the Proposed Tauranga Urban Strategy 2050, it is out now for public consultation and this closes when the crackers go off on 5th November.

Pages 8 & 9 outline the hub of the proposal which is designed to address our need for better urban development and solve the problems which already exist. ‘The Tauranga Urban Strategy proposes that more homes are located within 5 to 15-minutes from the local centre’.

When people can live in close proximity to the things that contribute to the quality of our lives, preschools, schools, swimming pools, libraries, shopping centres, medical facilities, the beach, our places of work, our need for car parks and roads, petrol and road taxes, insurance and registrations all diminish. Our lives are improved. Wider choices of housing leads to more appropriate housing for all sectors of our community.

Centres Based Intensification Recognising feedback from earlier public consultation, the strategy describes more mixed-use developments in town centres and higher density housing within a 5 to 15-minute walk of these town centres. Pictures on page 8 show well designed 4-storey apartments within immediate proximity of these Town Centres, and 3-level townhouse type developments within a 5 to 15-minute walk. Page 9 identifies the locations of Tauranga town centres in which this type of development is proposed.

The major commercial centres shown on page 9 are:

1. Mount CBD

2. Bayfair

3. Papamoa Beach

4. Te Tumu

5. Tauranga CBD

6. Cameron / 11th Ave

7. Lakes

8. Bethlehem

The City’s long-term plan in response to the ‘National Policy on Urban Development Capacity 2016’ identifies additional smaller centres for this type of ‘centres based’ intensification. These are shown as smaller dots on Page 9.

This is a managed, controlled, and cost-effective method to create a compact city. Sadly Councillors are tempted, in what I have referred to as their ‘sheepish’ nature. To start with centres based intensification in just one location.

What sort of timid half-baked idea is that? We are not a tin pot town.

Tauranga is a large, diverse and widely spread city. We need strong, well-founded and clear management of our urban development.

I recommend that all eight of the major centres shown on page 9 of the ‘Proposed Tauranga Urban Strategy 2050’ are opened to this type of development now.

Quality & Cost

These need not be mutually exclusive. If we do not want to leave the quality of our urban development to individual property developers, the community must set standards.

The Council should be taking a leadership role here, (rather than paying out for past errors). The Council should be following international best practice. We are not unique. Council have proposed little to achieve the Governments desire to see better, warmer, more affordable homes built in close proximity to location of community amenities.

Council have used words like: ‘a quality-built environment that complements our stunning natural environment’. What an absurd specification for the quality of our urban environment. I ask you to consider what you expect. Should all new homes achieve a Home Star score of 6 or more? What percentage of homes should be able to be purchased by a family with a specified income and deposit?

These are issues which will define the quality of our ‘City’. Find out how to have your say online: BayLive.nz/2050

Hard copies of all documents and submission forms are available at Council reception and libraries.

By Peter McArthur

“I write for Bay Waka to encourage us all that unless you have your say, this Council may not do what the majority of the people want.”