25 July 2019
Full Council meeting - decisions
Councillors have today given approval for Council staff to explore the potential of rates relief as a way to incentivise inner city development, building improvements and conversion to inner city living.
Today’s decision followed a recommendation from Council’s Strategy, Policy & Finance Committee to support development of options to bring back to elected members later this year or early next year for decision-making. Development of options will include working with stakeholders including developers, property owners and the Rotorua Chamber of Commerce and consulting the public.
Inner city revitalisation has been a priority of Council since 2013 and the focus to date has been on improving the general environment including safety, roading and footpaths, activity and the look of the CBD. The district’s Spatial Plan identified the need for more work to be done to encourage building improvements, development of more inner city living and encourage tourism accommodation to move into the CBD.
The amount of vacant space in the inner city in the past three years has been significantly less than the previous several years but remains a challenge, alongside the state of some buildings in the CBD and the size of the CBD itself, which is an issue for New Zealand centres.
The intention is to explore existing examples from around the country and talk to developers and property owners, with a view to developing a local policy that could support development and investment decisions.
Councillor Rob Kent recorded his vote against the recommendation as he supports inner city revitalisation but does not believe this proposal goes far enough.
The report considered by the Strategy, Policy & Finance Committee earlier this month recommended that to fully understand the opportunities and repercussions of a rates remission or postponement policy the following process should be undertaken:
1. Create a working party made up of local developers and inner city stakeholders to formulate options.
2. Model and analyse options and present back to the working party to agree preferred option.
3. Undertake public consultation on preferred option.
4. Analysis of feedback and refining preferred option.
5. Present process and outcomes back to Council for consideration.
6. If approved, any new policy could be trialled for up to 2 years to understand progress and reviewed.
"An additional option is to undertake District Plan changes that will reduce the size of the footprint over time,” the report stated. “While this is programmed, this change alone will not transform the inner city rapidly. Changes such as this take time as existing use rights require a building to be empty for over a year before any new zoning can take effect. Instead it is recommended that Council have a number of initiatives underway with a remissions policy being one of them".
Go to p13 of the Strategy, Policy, & Finance Committee agenda to view the full report that went to the Committee for its consideration.
Other decisions made today
Proposed Plan Change 3 - Significant Natural Areas
The Full Council approved a number of recommendations from the RMA Policy Committee relating to Proposed Plan Change 3 – Significant Natural Areas (SNAs) to enable it to go out to publicly notify the proposed change and invite submissions. The proposed plan change follows Council’s commitment in 2014, when making decisions around the District Plan, to investigate more than 50 potential additional SNAs identified by ecologists that hadn’t been assessed for significance. Consultation has also taken place with landowners around the boundaries of most sites.
Go to p16 of today’s Full Council agenda to view the recommendations that were passed. View the evaluation report that relates to the proposed district plan change HERE.
Licensing commissioner appointed
The Full Council approved the appointment of Councillor Karen Hunt to be an Commissioner to the Rotorua District Licensing Committee on the recommendation of the Strategy, Policy & Finance Committee. See p17 of the recent committee agenda to view the full report on this matter. The purpose of appointing Cr Hunt, under the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 is to ensure the District Licensing Committee is able to continue performing its statutory role through the election period and beyond with a chairperson in place. The incoming Council will be able to make changes if wanted.
Plan Change 5 – Signage and Miscellaneous Changes
The Full Council approved the provisions in Plan Change 1 and 5 to the District Plan and will instruct the affixing of the Council seal and notification of an operative date for the plan change. You can learn more about this here.
Today’s meeting was livestreamed and you can view the recording at THIS LINK on Council’s website.
You can also view today’s meeting agenda and presentations made at the above link.