Transport initiative brings Minister to the Bay

Minister of Housing and Urban Development, and Transport Phil Twyford. File photo.

Leaders from across the western Bay of Plenty met with the Minister of Housing and Urban Development, and Transport, Phil Twyford last week to discuss the Urban Form and Transport Initiative (UFTI).

Following the launch in March, a project team headed by Robert Brodnax, has been appointed to oversee the collaborative project which is being spearheaded by SmartGrowth and the NZ Transport Agency.

The project also involves the Western Bay of Plenty District Council, Tauranga City Council, Bay of Plenty Regional Council, and Tangata Whenua.

UFTI Project Manager Robert Brodnax joined SmartGrowth Chairman Bill Wasley in welcoming Phil to Tauranga on Wednesday, May 15, showing how the project partners’ collaborative relationship is enabling the region to meet the Government’s key housing and transport priorities.

Bill says the meeting provides a positive reaffirmation from the Minister that the collaborative approach and commitment being shown from the region’s leaders was supported by central Government.

“The Minister provided a clear direction for what success in spatial planning and a multi-modal transport future for the region needs to look like. Specifically, the Minister expressed the need for UFTI to demonstrate commitment to building a modern transport system, developing a mode shift plan for the sub-region, as well as investigating and defining rapid transit corridors,” Bill says.

“It’s great to have this level of clarity and we are certainly aligned in what we are working to deliver through UFTI to meet these expectations.”

UFTI is a 12-month urban development and transport project for the western Bay of Plenty which provides a refreshed, coordinated and aligned approach across the sub-region on key issues, including housing, transport and urban development.

Western Bay of Plenty District Council Mayor Garry Webber provided a commitment to the Minister on behalf of the SmartGrowth partners to move forward collaboratively with central Government to deliver on the shared agenda, enabling a sustainable and liveable region for the community.

“UFTI is developing a rigorous and evidenced based plan which will deliver an integrated and multi-modal solution for the transport and land use challenges in front of us. By mid-2020, we will have scoped the best options, considered the implications, interdependencies and the variables, and have a plan in place about how spatial, transport, and urban development decisions are being made to deliver the best outcomes for our region,” Garry says.

Working with Government to address the housing supply shortage in the western Bay of Plenty is a key short-term area of focus, raised by Tauranga City Council Mayor Greg Brownless.

“Continued and rapid growth in the western Bay of Plenty is presenting a significant short-term housing challenge which is now urgent due to delays and risks in delivering new supply,” Mayor Brownless says.

"It is crucial that we work with Government to address these challenges so we can collectively continue to support strong economic and employment growth, and better manage the housing crisis while creating communities where it's great to live. The ball is clearly in the sub-region’s court to deliver both an integrated plan supported by agreed funding arrangements to implement it."

Bay of Plenty Regional Council Deputy Chair Jane Nees tells Minister Twyford that a multi-modal transport approach had become a significant part of planning, with investment in the region’s public transport, walking and cycling infrastructure underway, along with a rail feasibility study.

“For our community to move from a car and road first environment, to embracing an integrated, region-wide multi-modal transport model, will require a significant change in mindset and culture. We are committed to working together to achieve this,” Jane says.

The UFTI project partners have agreed to a set of principles which will guide the work undertaken. UFTI Project Director Robert Brodnax says the first output for UFTI will be a base case report to be published in July that will set out how the transport network will look if the western Bay of Plenty keeps following its current plan, at a level of detail that meets expectations from central Government and the Transport Agency.

“From that work and other inputs, such as the work done to date through the Tauranga Transport Plan, Tauranga Urban Strategy and the Future Development Strategy, we will build an integrated programme of land use and transport initiatives to be delivered by the partners over the next 50 years, with a focus on delivering immediate improvements,” Robert says.

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