8 March 2019

Media: Daily Post
Topic: CBD vacancies

Enquiry

I was just wondering if the council was aware of how many retail businesses in the CBD were closing? If so, how many are on their radar and which ones?

If you could ask for a response to: retail owners around the CBD are saying the town is headed towards becoming a ghost town and that the dying foot traffic and increase in vacant shops are "killing our businesses".

Further info/questions from reporter:

Speaking to several businesses, the common theme of the concern with retail in the CBD, despite officials not being concerned with the slight increase in retail vacancy, was around foot traffic and parking.

Some comments were:

- CBD is at risk of turning into a ghost town

- They all noticed a decline in foot traffic. All said parking effected them, and getting rid of public services in the CDB like the post office were killing their business.

- Rent was brought up as an issue and a small business owner said she had to put the price onto her customers. On top of that, they had to pay for parking.

- RE: parking from the businesses - "why would they want to come in and pay when they can go somewhere else and park for free"

- Shopping centerss in Lynmore, Kmart, Mall were pulling people away from town.

- Businesses were concerned about their future as they said businesses created businesses for each other but were finding it hard as they noticed more leaving or closing up

-Unless it's Maori culture or biking, the council don't care

- Biking and tourism were mentioned several times as having priority over other businesses

- I found businesses who were quite niche ie Suspension Lab (specifically offer mountain bike suspension services or engraving) did not have a concern as they were the only one in the city that could really do their job.

- Places where services could be found somewhere else, not in town, were really feeling it (from the people closing down)

- They said the CBD urgently needs to be revitalised, others say its too late to save.

I am still yet to go to more tourism stores and eateries, just to find more general feel but I would like to put these concerns to you.

What is the council response to this?

There were also several mentions of staff on upper Pukuatua not feeling safe because of the type of people brought in by services such as WINZ, Community Barn, Salvation Army etc - they said customers are scared to come and they sometimes close shop early out of fear of the aggressive people. It was called a constant thing they had to deal with and they feel their safety was not being considered.

Response

Mayor Chadwick provided the following comment:

"Diversity is the key to a full and vibrant CBD in the face of changing business environments.

Rotorua's 2018 CBD office and retail vacancy survey reveals a stable picture that aligns with current economic indicators but there is a need to rethink what a CBD should be.

A vibrant inner city is a place where people work, eat, meet, take part in activities and do business. All of that has social benefit for the community as well as being good for businesses and generating jobs.

We're aware of ongoing movements in our CBD that have already seen one vacancy refilled since the survey and will see other currently vacant retail space also filling up again, so that's positive.

Our local challenges are not unique. Towns and cities around the country are faced with the challenge of considering what a CBD should be. We have a large CBD and we need to stop thinking about it as being just about shops. Our CBD is already a diverse place – as well as offices, shops, cafes and restaurants there are also churches, educational organisations, arts and culture centres, health-related hubs, voluntary service hubs, markets, a park at Te Aka Mauri and hotels. And there is room for more of all of that. There are also opportunities for more inner city living, something we would encourage property owners to consider and something we refer to in our Spatial Plan.

The decrease in vacant space in Rotorua's CBD during the past few years has happened despite new buildings being constructed in the inner city and despite an increase in retail and hospitality offerings outside of the CBD – such as at Trade Central, Fairy Springs and eastside.

So that is a positive and Telfer Young notes that in the early part of 2019 confidence and demand in the inner city still seems high which is also heartening.

Local businesses and retailers doing well is good for the whole district and Council will keep doing what it can to create a positive business environment. Council and businesses need to keep reviewing what they do and how they do it to ensure we remain relevant in the face of ongoing change.

I believe we do have a more vibrant inner city now. Improvements and changes that have been undertaken are about making it a more attractive place for people to be, for the benefit of our local businesses.

While some business people say things are tough for them right now there are also others who are optimistic and doing well. We want everyone operating in our CBD to be doing well and Council will continue its efforts for ongoing improvement and vibrancy aimed at bringing people in to our inner city. Positive partnerships with our local business people will remain crucial to achieving shared goals."

The following further comment and information was also provided:

From Mayor Steve Chadwick:

"Revitalising our CBD continues to be a priority and while we've achieved a lot in recent years, we have not stopped working on it.

The vision is to create a great environment that people want to spend time in and we want all of our businesses to be doing well because that's good for the whole community.

Council can't do it alone – we need inner city representatives and other stakeholders to keep working with us to identify and work through opportunities. We're open to new ideas and would be happy to work with inner city representatives, as we did with the inner city retail group when there was one."

What's been done to date includes:

  • Improved intersections
  • Art installations and alleyway art
  • Increased CCTV and lighting in the CBD
  • Inner city markets aimed at attracting people into the CBD
  • Revamped heart of the central city (Te Manawa)
  • Eat Streat
  • Jean Batten Park expansion and revamp
  • Summer activation (eg live entertainment)
  • CBD safety initiative with police

Some facts re latest parking changes

  • The amount of limited-time free parking (P60 and P15) in the central streets of the CBD – ie Tutanekai Street and side streets off that – has not changed. Some of the locations of some 15 minute parks have changed.
  • The aim with parking is to give everyone fair access which is achieved through turnover and the objective is to support businesses. Council used to get complaints that inner city workers were taking up parks that should be there for customers.

We do not have official info re shop closures in the CBD – this is not something people are required to report to council.

Information was provided regarding movement/possible movement in the CBD including:

New business called Blind Finch eatery moving into the building formerly occupied by Che Chrizo on Fenton St 

ISocial Room (in the building formerly occupied by Lone Star which is now in the new building opposite the Novotel) opened since the Telfer Young survey was done.

A building on the corner of Eruera and Tutanekai (down from Kathmandu) empty due to being renovated.

Name of agent for former temporary library building.
 
also please note re NZ Post: Postal services are still available in the CBD, at Central Mall, so just in a different location. Daily Post covered this.

The 2018 Telfer Young CBD vacancy survey report is available on Council’s website at the following links:

CBD vacancy survey 2018 Part 1

CBD vacancy surve​y 2018 Part 2​


 

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Media: Radio NZ
Topic: Building consents for solid fuel heaters

Enquiry

I am working a piece after talking to a local Rotorua man who has a gripe about what he says is the complexity of having to install a new wood burner to comply with new rules taking effect from January 2020.

He believes the paperwork is too complex when applying for a $395 consent from the council.  He also says the cost of having to buy a new fire and install it will deter a lot of people who are likely to just flout the new rules.

I would like to arrange to speak to (interview) someone from the council who could clarify thingss for me.

The reporter further explained he was particularly interested in the building consent process and understanding the reasons for it and subsequently sent the following questions:

  1. For people needing to replace their wood burners, what is the process?

  2. Why is it necessary?

  3. What help is there for people eg; elderly to work through the paperwork?

  4. Any financial assistance provided for those who can’t afford the change?

  5. Any concern that some people may think it is all too hard and just continue with their existing burner?

  6. Will inspections be made after 2020?

Response

We don't have anyone available for interview sorry but see below some key information that may assist and some quotes for your use. Because we don't know who the person you've spoken to is and therefore don't have specifics about his particular consent application or about his complaint, the comment is generic in nature but going by your emails should cover off what you need.

Comment from Rotorua Lakes Council Planning and Development Manager Jason Ward:

"The consenting process required under building legislation is aimed at ensuring buildings are safe for the people occupying them, by making sure work is done properly and to the required standards.

"We always endeavour to make the process as problem-free as possible for applicants, while at the same time meeting building legislation requirements.

"There is a legislated requirement for a certain amount of information. Rotorua Lakes Council has reduced this to the minimum required and applications for solid fuel heaters go through a streamlined process which usually takes a matter of days, generally less than a week.

"Staff are available to help anyone who is unsure about how to fill in the form or is unsure about any step in the process and can assist them to finalise their application."

Key general points:

  • Building consents are the formal approval required to ensure building work meets the requirements of legislation, specifically the New Zealand Building Act, Building Regulations and Building Code. Most building work requires a building consent.
     
  • The Building Act, which Councils are required to administer, covers construction, alteration, demolition & maintenance of new & existing buildings, setting standards and procedures for people involved in building work (including licensing of practitioners) to ensure buildings are safe, healthy, and constructed right.
     
  • The Act covers how work should be done, who can do it, and when it needs to be consented and inspected.
     
  • In Rotorua (as you are aware) there are also local rules regarding the types of fuel burners/fires allowed as part of efforts to reduce air pollution. Enforcement and administration of the rules regarding fuel burners in Rotorua is delegated to the Bay of Plenty Regional Council (in case you haven't already read it, see more HERE on BOPRC's website regarding the Rotorua Airshed rules).

Some points regarding the process:

  • Go to THIS LINK to view the application form + the checklist for applicants.
     
  • The fee for a consent covers the administrative tasks involved, including the processing, inspection and certification (Code Compliance Certificate). 
     
  • There are some solid fuel heater providers who do the paperwork and consenting process on people's behalf. Rotorua Heating Solutions and The Fireman are among the local firms who do this.

In response to subsequent questions 1-6:

The question relating to financial assistance to change fires is one that should be directed to the regional council but yes there is assistance available. Find info HERE on the regional council website about the rules and about the Hot Swap and Low Income Heating Grant schemes.

Question 5 is also one more appropriately directed to the regional council.

I'm not sure what you mean by Question 6 – inspections are required (this was referred to in the info I sent you earlier) for a Code Compliance Certificate to be issued but I'm not clear on your reference to 2020 sorry. If you are referring to non-compliant burners not being allowed to be used after 31 January 2020 then again, this question should be referred to the regional council.

I think we've covered off the other questions in what I sent you earlier. However, if Question 2 is about why the change (in what burners can be used) is necessary, that is a question for the regional council and again, there is info regarding this in the above think on the regional council website.

Your questions relate to both the rule changes regarding wood burners and building consents so it appears the person you have spoken to may have issues about both. Please ensure there is clear distinction in your story between what sits with the regional council (the rule changes - which relate to air pollution) and building consents (a service district councils are delegated to perform – as set out in  national legislation). The link above provides good information regarding the rule changes and the reasons for them.

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Media: Daily Post
Topic: Soundshell removal

Enquiry

I am working on a piece remembering the Soundshell building and wondering if you Steve had anything you would like to share?

Maybe fond memories or something you will miss about the place now that it is being transformed? 

But I welcome your opinion on the new space that will stand in its place and what that will offer to the Rotorua Community. 

Response

Photo was provided and the following comment from Mayor Steve Chadwick:

“I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds for the lakefront development that’s been designed with inspiration from our partners like Te Arawa Lakes Trust and Ngāti Whakaue as well as feedback from our communityDeveloping the lakefront has been a discussion point for more than 10 years. It will be a game changer for Rotorua and will breathe new life into the Soundshell site, which has had its day and has been around for about six decades.  It wouldn’t be wise for us to try to hold on to a building that is earthquake prone and contains asbestos.  In its place and as part of the lakefront development project, the area will be a new community space with additional boat parking. Within this space will be the wharewaka building which will house the ceremonial Te Arawa waka.  We can remember the legacy of the Soundshell building as a community space, vibrant and full of life, which I want to see again as a result of developing the lakefront.”

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Media: Stuff
Topic: Special Housing Areas (SHAs)

Enquiry

I am preparing a story on the disestablishment of SHAs in September this year.

There is currently a rush of developers attempting to have SHAs approved in the Queenstown-Lakes area before September 16. I am wondering if the situation is the same in Rotorua.

 Can you please advise:

 How many SHAs have been approved? 

How many residential sections does this involve?

How many SHAs are under construction?

How many residential sections have been created?

How many SHA applications is the council expecting before the September 2019 deadline?

How many more residential sections is this likely to involve?

Response

The following information was provided:

  • There have been no SHAs approved to date in Rotorua.
  • There is one application for SHA status (initial proposal was for 190 dwellings) currently with the Minister awaiting a decision.
  • A second was proposed  (130 dwellings) but has not come back to Council for consideration.
  • We have to date had no indications of further applications to come.


 


 

Page reviewed: 13 May 2019 8:05am