Housing options for Thames and surrounds to be accelerated 05 May 2021 The acceleration of options to build more than 1000 homes through new development around Thames is being backed by our Council with the endorsement of the Thames and Surrounds Spatial Plan Strategic and Economic Business Case Report, at its meeting this week. “Thames is the economic engine that will pull the Coromandel through our loss of tourism revenue due to COVID, but we urgently need new houses so our industries can attract the right workforce and grow,” says Mayor Sandra Goudie. “We’re about to build an $8.2million business and marine precinct in Kōpū, in the Thames ward, which is already struggling to house staff, so our situation is urgent.” “This report has all the evidence to support a case for housing acceleration,” says Mayor Sandra. “The next steps will involve engagement with iwi and the community on the potential options”. Council will then commence a statutory plan change process for residential housing within the potential development area selected, which will require an out-of-cycle budget approval process. There are a lot of external funding sources we will be investigating to support this project. “We’ll need to secure infrastructure funding externally for these potential areas, which would provide new homes immediately as well as over the medium to long term,” says Mayor Sandra. “That’s why we’re being bold in pursuing support from the government and other agencies for financial support to get this happening quickly.” The report shows fewer than 40 new houses a year have been built in Thames over the last decade. It identified greenfield areas that could be readily serviced with infrastructure for residential development of up to 1,000 new homes. The options take into account the potential long-term impacts of climate change and adaptation needs. The areas are in Totara Valley, Matatoki North, Puriri and Kauaeranga Valley. The report found potential areas in Totara Valley could be serviced to provide housing within the next 12 months. Additional developable land in Matatoki North is strategically located near existing services that could proceed through a plan change process within the next 12-18months. A plan change could also be considered to enable housing within Puriri Village over a 5- 10 year timeframe that would connect to Council’s new Puriri water supply due for completion by 2025. All of these options will be discussed with our communities and stakeholders through an engagement process that will run next month. The endorsement of Thames and Surrounds Spatial Plan Strategic and Economic Business Case Report is so housing opportunities aren’t missed while long-term planning for the impacts of climate change is underway. That work includes the Shoreline Management Project, which has established four coastal panels, that will shortly begin considering various protection and management options for the district. “Climate change is already impacting our area and we’re doing a huge amount of work with our scientists, our planners, our iwi leaders, and our coastal communities to ensure the effects are well understood and properly prepared for. That work is also informing our decisions about how and where we build new houses in the longer term,” says Mayor Sandra. You can view the Thames and Surrounds Spatial Plan Strategic and Economic Business Case Report as part of the Council’s meeting agenda here. This work sits in our Economic Development activity – and is part of our Council’s Productivity Plan, which sets out the key areas of focus for supporting our district. tcdc.govt.nz/productivityplan. Also at the Council meeting: The full recording of the Council meeting can be viewed from later today on our website at tcdc.govt.nz/meetings. Tairua Skate Park Our Council recommended that Tairua-Pauanui Community Board revoke all its recent decisions regarding the Tairua Skate Facility and refer future decisions on the facility to our Council. Our Council can then re-start the process of selecting a suitable location for a skate park in Tairua and identify its preferred location with an open mind, following a robust community consultation process. This follows the recent application for a judicial review of the process that identified Cory Park Domain as the site to construct a skate facility. The Preserve Cory Park Domain Incorporated Society (the Society) claimed Tairua-Pauanui Community Board’s decisions to locate the skate park at Cory Park Domain did not comply with legislation. Our Council does not agree with most of the ‘causes of action’ raised by the Society but acknowledges that some of the matters raised could put the decision to proceed at Cory Park Domain at risk. “Our lawyers have been negotiating with the Society to try to avoid spending ratepayers’ money on a legal process, but the matter has not been resolved,” says Mayor Sandra. “This is disappointing. We’d much rather spend ratepayers’ money delivering a recreational amenity for the town’s young people.” Peak summer numbers drop in the Coromandel but domestic tourists spend more New data shows a drop in the area’s peak population during the popular holiday period. Our latest Peak Population Study indicates that peak holiday numbers were reached on 31 December 2020 with 116,300 people in our district. This meant the population was 2.02 times larger than at the start of that month. Every few years our Council undertakes a survey to estimate how many people are spending their summer holiday on the Coromandel. Previous studies found the peak population in the district on New Year’s Eve to be 126,300 (2016/17), 120,874 (2009/10), 137,700 (2007/08) and 142,375 (2003/04). This year’s drop is likely due to COVID-19 border restrictions which have prevented international visitors coming into the country and visiting the area. The estimates were drawn from cell phone, water supply and wastewater data. “Even though numbers overall were down we did have lovely sunshine and very little rain which may have encouraged an extended peak period for domestic tourists,” says Laurna White, our Council’s Communications and Economic Development Group Manager. The study also shows local visitors were willing to spend more with domestic tourism spending in the Coromandel 31 per cent higher in December 2020 than the previous year. The peak population study is summarised in the Chief Executive’s Report and the full report is available on our website. Council Finance’s Snapshot The Chief Executive’s Report also has an update on our Council finances. Our operating surplus is favourable by $5.4 million. This surplus is attributable to the phasing of budgets, increased sales of rubbish bags and increased activity at the transfer stations over the summer period, additional subsidies from Waka Kotahi for storm damage remediation works and from MBIE for additional cleaning of public conveniences over the summer period through the Responsible Camping Fund. Our capital expenditure programme is on track for 80-85 per cent completion for the end of our financial year (30 June). Standards of Camping on Private Property Bylaw Our Council recommended to revoke the Standards of Camping on Private Property Bylaw. The bylaw has been assessed to be no longer required. Our Council has a range of other enforcement tools that can be used to manage issues that may arise when large groups are camping on private property, such as the Resource Management Act to deal with noise complaints, or the Health Act to deal with sanitation and nuisance issues. A public consultation on revoking the bylaw will be scheduled for later this year. Drinking Water Standards Upgrade Our Council also approved bringing forward $1.5 million to this year’s Drinking Water Standards Upgrade budget to complete the planned work for the current financial year. Three of the 10 water treatment plant upgrades have been completed: Tairua (pictured), Pauanui and Whitianga. The programme for the remaining seven water treatment plant upgrades will be completed by 2023/24 and has been included in the draft 2021 – 2031 Long Term Plan. An additional water treatment plant will be built in the Puriri area and is expected to be completed in 2024/25. Currently in the works: Coromandel Town – Testing of the operation of the plant and equipment is well advanced and the water treatment plant will be open on Friday 25 June. Beverley Hills (Whangamatā) – Construction work has finished and the plant and equipment installations are in progress. A meeting to discuss the testing of the equipment is scheduled for late May to check everything is in working order. Wentworth Valley (Whangamatā) – The building consent has been finalised and construction work has started on site. It is expected that the work will be completed by March 2022. Moana Point (Whangamatā) – Enabling works will start in May with the removal of some existing trees to clear the site for the water treatment plant. Hahei – Drilling has finished to establish potential locations of new underground aquifers. We will update you more on the new water treatment plant and the exact location when this has been finalised. Read more about our Drinking Water Standards Upgrade project on our website tcdc.govt.nz/dws.