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New funding will unlock vision for local housing and property

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Exploring options for town centre properties, and identifying ways to deliver better housing outcomes across the district: new funding has opened a door to these and other long-term, transformational projects across Central Hawke’s Bay. 

Central Hawke’s Bay District Council resolved today to apply for the first instalment of the Government’s ‘Better Off’ funding package, part of Three Waters Reform. The intent of the Better Off funding is for Councils to invest in the future of their communities, lift local wellbeing and build resilience as local government faces its most significant reforms in more than 30 years.

Although Central Hawke’s Bay District Council’s share of the Better Off package is $11.1M in total, Councillors have opted for a measured approach, tackling each project in stages and assessing viability and value throughout. The first, scoping stage will draw down just under $1M and does not commit Council to further spending. 

“Better Off funding, quite simply, hands us an opportunity to transform our community in ways we wouldn’t be able to do otherwise - perhaps for years, perhaps ever,” says Mayor Alex Walker.  

“We’ve always set our sights on making positive change that lasts for generations, not quick fixes. This one-off opportunity shouldn’t be a lolly scramble. We’re planning to take on some significant work that supports local place-making, community development, and housing. This is exciting, considering the sad state of places like our old closed Library building in Waipukurau and the need for fresh eyes and fresh investment. Even better, we won’t need to ask our ratepayers to fund this work.” 

Central Hawke’s Bay District Council has been part of the strong leadership in the Hawke’s Bay region which developed a credible alternative to the Government’s Three Waters model. Council has expressed serious concerns about the loss of local voice in the new structure, and its position on the reforms remains unchanged.

“Here in Hawke’s Bay it is absolutely clear that we need large structural change for affordable and effective Three Waters delivery, but we are very disappointed that the Government did not consider our regional alternative to Three Waters Reform. Many of our concerns about how we will get locally responsive service and delivery are still live,” says Mayor Walker. 

“However, if we were to decline this funding now, it may be lost to us in the future. We have chosen to accept the offer for what it represents – an opportunity to set Central Hawke’s Bay on course for a strong future,” says Mayor Walker. “With the huge financial pressures on our council and community, and large roading demands unfolding, we need to get the absolute best from this funding that we can.”

Council plans to embark first on projects to scope community and commercial property needs in the district and identify how best to coordinate and deliver housing outcomes. 

Next will come projects to explore a Tamatea-Central Hawke’s Bay governance and leadership programme, scope opportunities for community investment, and achieve wins identified through Council’s wide-ranging Thriving Places and Spaces consultation. 

30 September 2022

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