Manu Bay Breakwall and Increased Rates Takes Center Stage in Upcoming Community Board Update


With the recent Raglan Community Board (RCB) meeting held Wednesday at Te Mata Hall, Board Chairman Dennis Amoore joins Aaron in the studio to chat about community issues after the second rural RCB meeting of the year.

Manu Bay Breakwall

Progress on the Manu Bay Breakwall is finally underway after 18 months since consultants Tompkin and Taylor and eCoast were contracted; the report is now with Council for  the peer-review study. Dennis notes concerns about swells rolling over the top during small seas, especially towards high tide. Anticipating the need for fixes, Dennis expects stakeholders to be notified once a date for presentation of the report is set.

Wi Neera Walkway

The northern end of the Wi Neera footpath has seen improvements, with additional shotcrete treatment on the sea wall surface. However, Dennis highlights the need for further attention at the southern end, which requires more engineering input and investment. The final upgrade will include handrails and a wider footpath and start late April.

Car Park Upgrades

Both Wainui Reserve and Papahua Reserve car parks are currently undergoing upgrades. The Wainui car park is expected to be completed in a few more weeks, with resurfacing and realignment in progress. Dennis assures that work on the Papahua car park will accommodate upcoming events such as the Whāingaroa Hoe and the start of the Soccer season.

CCTV in the CBD

Progress on deploying a district-wide CCTV network continues as council engages in discussions with suppliers and installers. While Raglan hopes to receive the 7 prioritised cameras through the RCB, this hinges on district-wide needs.

Wharf Upgrade Project

The Wharf Upgrade project is nearing completion, with about 6 weeks left until the bulk of the work is finished. Contractors are currently focused on the tidal stairs leading to the water’s edge. Dennis anticipates the final stages of the project, including landscaping and signage, once the concrete work is completed.

Greenslade Rd Playground

Council acknowledges the need for more playgrounds in the community. They will be building one at the end of Greenslade Rd and are considering a nature-style playground as raised by the Greenslade residents.. Dennis mentions ongoing discussions regarding designs that incorporate natural elements and textures based on resident feedback.

WDC propose 13.75% rates rise

Waikato District Council is currently seeking input from communities across the district regarding a proposed 13.75% increase in general rates for the upcoming 2024/25 Enhanced Annual Plan. This proposed rise follows the council's earlier projection of a 20% increase in rates outlined in the Long-Term Plan, which is currently on hold as central government allocates funding and matters such as three waters are resolved.

Dennis is advocating for a thorough reassessment of local government structures. Given New Zealand's relatively small size, he questions the practicality of maintaining numerous local bodies serving small populations.

There is a growing consensus that a reevaluation of the structure and funding of these bodies is long overdue. Despite a government group being tasked with exploring alternative approaches prior to the last local body election, discussions seemed to have stalled after the release of a comprehensive report last year.

Dennis and Aaron discussed the challenges of maintaining high-quality local services amidst financial constraints. Dennis questions the feasibility of continually raising standards and allocating more funds to essential services like water treatment, while also supporting less critical areas such as museums and art galleries.

Dennis attributes the rising infrastructure problems to the population growth in Raglan. The increased demand for housing strains existing infrastructure, leading to shortages and driving up maintenance costs.There needs to be a closer look at development charges so that growth covers its costs.

He suggests potential savings by reevaluating the roles of various groups such as the sustainability team which could be a common team across several councils and possibly outsourcing some tasks to other entities like the Waikato Regional Council, which could result in significant cost reductions.

As an example, Dennis points to wastewater, asking whether council have ever looked to pipe to a site that provides the service for Huntly, Ngaruawahi and Taupiri or even pipe into Hamilton's system.

Challenges Facing Local Businesses

Recent media attention has honed in on local business owners airing grievances about the escalating costs of commercial leases in the Raglan CBD. According to Dennis, these issues stem from a supply and demand dynamic, along with the limited options for commercial leases on the main street. He did however observe a significant price difference between commercial leases in Waihi Beach and Raglan, with the latter being approximately 25% higher.

These discussions underscore a delicate balance between profitability and ethical considerations. They also raise questions about the suitability of certain businesses for Raglan, given its comparatively lower foot traffic, while also highlighting the challenges local businesses face in securing rentals in the area. There needs to be consideration to identifying areas for more retail development which will mean other landlords entering the market.

Local Structure Plan

Debate is underway about where to put a bypass road linking SH23 to Te Hutewai Road, with two big property developers effectively negotiating with each other and with council about where it might go. Council staff have done their own investigation but so far the public has had no input to the process - largely because the community doesn’t have a structure plan (or similar future planning document). 

A structure plan typically outlines the long-term vision for development in a specific area, including land use, transportation networks, and infrastructure placement. Here, it's all about finding the best spot for the bypass road and making sure it fits with what the community wants to achieve overall.

Dennis eagerly awaits the issue of the upcoming transport strategy for discussion as this has to address the many issues the community is faced with from the one way bridge to congestion in the town on busy weekends by opening up an alternative route to the beaches.

Dennis thinks the council should really figure out the best location for this project rather than have it dictated by large landowners.

He also brings up how building more houses can hike up infrastructure costs. So, the council needs to think about whether developers are contributing enough for these extra expenses down the line, even though it might be too late for existing projects.

Dennis was also uneasy about the amount of greenspace with some subdivisions, which will result in substantial maintenance costs for council going forward.