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Source: MIL-OSI Submissions
Source: Palmerston North City Council

Palmerston North City Council’s 10-Year Plan was approved for Audit and their strategic direction adopted by the Committee of Council on Wednesday.

“This 10-Year Plan reflects investment in the city – in its infrastructure, its environment and its people,” said Mayor Grant Smith. “The response from our community was extremely positive.  Most of the 700 submissions we received endorsed the front-footed direction proposed, while also suggesting areas warranting further investment. An overall consensus around keeping Palmy on the move as a city is hugely encouraging because this has been one of the more difficult 10 Year Plans to prepare.”

A balance was sought between investing in infrastructure to sustainably manage the city’s strong growth, keeping all the day-to-day services going, and ensuring the city continues to support its most vulnerable residents.

“The timing of our 10-Year Plan meant we had a unique ambiguity with having to provide for a $350m investment in a new wastewater treatment programme ‘Nature Calls’ – needed for a new consent, at the same time as Central Government is considering the Three Waters Reform.”

“We’ve chosen to keep investing in the city’s assets, services and liveability as opposed to preparing for Nature Calls spending by reducing services, doing less maintenance and renewals of our infrastructure, pulling back on new projects and having larger rates increases.

“A significant part of our investment in sustainable growth has been to increase spending on infrastructure and keeping it up to standard. We’ve witnessed infrastructure failures in other cities and we’re determined to avoid them.”

Other major issues addressed in the strategic framework and 10-Year Plan are; climate change, housing supply, capital works, and earthquake-prone buildings

Over the past 18 months the strategic framework was developed to reflect Council’s vision He iti rā, he iti pounamu – Small city benefits, big city ambition. The framework was built on the previous 10-Year Plan and its strategic goals. It describes Council’s aspirations for the city and community and will shape advice and decision-making over the next three years.

“We appreciated submitter’s feedback, considered them carefully and added some projects and services to what we had proposed. The adjustments were all suggested through the consultation process from residents and groups. They include:

·       Doubling the social housing budget to $14M
·       Adding and bringing forward road safety improvements such as fixing the “five dips” road between Kelvin Grove and Bunnythorpe, and improving pedestrian access at Aokautere
·       Increasing the number of Council housing units we will build and limiting rent in our units to 25% of tenants’ benefits
·       Taking a co-ordinated look at how we can work with other Councils and groups to provide improved recreation facilities across the region – especially aquatic, indoor sports, and bowls facilities
·       Increasing the funding we make available for environmental projects, sports events, and community groups
·       Making neighbourhood streetscape improvements in Highbury
·       Increasing funding Green Corridors and street tree plantings
·       Increasing our emphasis on lowering Council’s carbon emissions
·       Waiving overdue library book fines for children and youth from year 1 (instead of year 3)
·       Providing a safety fence at Awapuni Park playground.

“These changes do mean rates will increase slightly more than we expected, with an overall rates increase of 8%,” says Mayor Smith.

Also adopted was the city’s spatial plan and Asset Management Plans.

“As we celebrate the city’s 150th anniversary, it’s clear Palmy has an exciting future. We can be proud we’ve created a Plan that leans into the future and also looks after the present. This is a Plan that meets our city’s challenges and unlocks opportunities over the long term.”

The 10-Year Plan, along with the Audit Report will come back to Council for adoption on 7 July.

MIL OSI