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Mayoral Forum OKs next stage in new plan for region

Issued by Waikato Mayoral Forum
Establishing a collective “voice” for the Waikato has taken another significant step after the Waikato Mayoral Forum endorsed the next phase in the creation of a spatial plan for the region.

Such a plan, covering up to 30 years into Waikato’s future, is proposed to be a collaboratively developed high-level strategy for the region. The plan would cover a wide range of issues from economic, social, cultural and environmental matters, and provide a basis for agreeing joint priorities, actions and investment.

At its latest meeting in Thames yesterday, forum members – made up of mayors and the regional council chair – received a briefing on the region’s headline strengths, challenges, opportunities and key issues. They agreed that a presentation on the spatial plan proposal should be made to a joint meeting of all the councils on 17 March, and that work should commence as soon as practicable.

A suggested project plan to deliver the spatial plan using existing budgets will be developed, and it will then go to each council for confirmation.

Strengths highlighted during the briefing included important industries such as dairying, challenges included the likes of skills constraints and environmental limits, while opportunities such as good transport links and leveraging Maori development were identified.

The forum also recommended that the best way to progress the project was for a joint committee of all councils in the region to be established to progress the development and adoption of a plan, and this will be discussed with all councils.

Forum chairman Allan Sanson – mayor of Waikato district – said council leaders were very pleased with the progress being made on the proposed spatial plan.

“It is a great opportunity to have a way for the Waikato to collectively speak with one voice on the big picture issues affecting our region. That’s crucially important when we are doing things like negotiating with central Government for more funding for the Waikato. A collective approach has previously been the key to us securing funding for infrastructure such as the Waikato Expressway.

“The next step is to look at how we can best translate all that information into strategies and actions which help us deliver the best outcomes for the region over the long term,” said Mr Sanson.

“I am very pleased with the level of co-operation between the region’s councils on this – it augurs well for the Waikato’s collective future.”

Besides the overall spatial plan, the forum is also supporting the development of a ground-breaking regional sport and recreation facilities plan, and a creative facilities plan. It is intended these will be integrated into the overall plan, as will the outcomes of discussions with regional stakeholders.

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