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A clear shared vision for our place

Opinion Piece

I had a great time at The Band School’s end of year show yesterday. It was great hearing our kids perform songs from the ’70s by Deep Purple, Queen, Joan Jett and The Steve Miller Band to name a few. Congratulations to Ricky Boyd from The Band School and all the students for an awesome show. A great way to end 2019.

This week in council we will be working on the last parts of the draft version of the Tairawhiti District Spatial Plan 2050. Work on the bones of the spatial plan began in September 2018. The plan has been consulted on with the community, industry, hapu and organisations since April 2019 with a series of workshops, council cuppas, written submissions and meetings.

So what is a spatial plan?

It is a clear and shared vision about what we want our place to look like in the future.

The spatial plan combines the aspirations and wellbeing of our communities, the bio-physical aspects and natural hazards of our environment, and our affected infrastructure, utilities and economy. This combination occurs through consultation and engagement with our people, projecting forward for sustainability and resilience of our natural resources, major infrastructure and collaborative location of industry, while being mindful that our spatial plan is feasible and is within our grasp to deliver on. A sensible plan for our “space” that will still be relevant in 30 years time.

Our “space” includes everything you could possibly think of — footpaths, transport links, suburbs, wastewater infrastructure, sport grounds, native bush, forestry, new builds, public toilets, settlement patterns, where industry is located, etc. The list is endless.

The Tairawhiti District Spatial Plan 2050 is about trying to cohesively plan for the above and more from a principles and policy point of view, while also having room enough in our plan to account for change over the next 30 years.

So, for example, if we look at our region’s connectivity with respect to the changing nature of transport over the past 200 years. The nature of our transport has changed from horse and cart to combustion engine motor vehicles. While we still have more horses on the road than the average New Zealand city, it’s undeniable that combustion engine vehicles are the predominant mode of transport. However, this will inevitably change over the next 200 years. It all may shift to electric. Or be autonomous. Automated drones may play a part in our economy. All of those technologies are readily available at the moment, so it is within the realm of possibility. Our plan should be cohesive enough to provide for our current modes of transport while being flexible enough to be able to move for the future.

We do know lots of people are using alternative means of transport for short trips; scooters, bicycles, walking, skating and a plethora of other active mobility means of transport. What could this mean for our future suburb and rural connections?

We’re already seeing suburbs in our city being connected by the walk/cycleways. My daughter uses the Oneroa cycleway to get from our home in Kaiti to her work in the industrial subdivision. It takes her 15mins, marginally longer than a car ride, but much smoother, safer and cheaper.

This small example is only one tiny slice of regional connectivity, which is only one subject of our overall spatial plan; so you can see that it’s quite complex.

Submissions have closed, but if you want to read more then please visit www.shapetairawhiti.nz and read about the plan.

The spatial plan is due for final adoption at our December 19th meeting of council.

As always, proud to serve you Tairawhiti.