28 April 2017

Rainwater harvesting, solar power, a wind turbine and the ability for the public to see the energy savings being made are some of the features being incorporated into Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s refurbishment of its Regional House building.

Work on the refit began in March after existing tenancies had ended, allowing the building to be vacated so that construction could begin.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council Property Manager Annabel Chappell says the refurbishment has been planned for the building since it was purchased in 2009. Since then Regional Council staff have been located on two levels of the building, but existing tenancies prevented the organisation from moving all its 160 Tauranga-based staff into the one location. People have been working from four locations across Tauranga and Mount Maunganui.

“Built in 1986, the building is in need of a lot of work,” said Ms Chappell. “Systems such as the air conditioning and joinery are failing and we have a major issue with weather tightness which requires fixing. However, it has many strong points including being in a great location for our customers and stakeholders, the building structure is in good shape, and its size means we can finally have one hub for all our Tauranga-based staff, with spare space to lease out to tenants which will generate some revenue to offset the upgrade costs”. 

Ms Chappell said to enable the work budget was included in the Long Term Plan 2015-2025. 

Two key focus areas for the design include improving both the customer interface for the public and encouraging greater interaction between individuals and teams within the organisation.

“The refurbishment will see everyone move to an open plan environment, including the Leadership Team,” said Ms Chappell. “We’re really looking forward to developing the connectedness we have across the organisation, as the move will bring teams currently spread over four sites together in a more collaborative working space. This means we will also be able to provide a single point of access for our customers in the western Bay.”

The plans include work on Wallingford House, which has garaging and waterfront access, enabling the Regional Council’s Maritime Team the opportunity to accommodate their vessels on the same site as staff, so that the response time for emergencies can be reduced.

The Regional Council has also been working with Tauranga City Council to see how its Regional House development can align with and enhance the City Council’s vision for the City Centre. The vision and principles are illustrated through the City Council’s City Centre Spatial Framework which seeks to improve connectivity and public spaces in and around the city centre, including Elizabeth Street and The Strand extension where Regional House is located.

To help inform the design of this area, Tauranga City Council is holding a “have your say” community event on Saturday 6 May from 11am to 2pm at the new waterfront tidal stairs and pier, which Regional Council staff will also attend.

Once the work on Regional House has been completed it’s proposed that the two levels of the building not required by the Regional Council will be leased.

Key facts

  • Budgeted costs for redevelopment are included in the Long Term Plan 2015-2025
  • Key sustainable design features: rain water harvesting; solar arrays; wind turbine, energy performance monitoring
  • Staff previously working from Regional House: 65
  • Staff intended to work from Regional House: 160
  • Work began: March 2017
  • Timeframe for project: 18 months
  • Built: 1986
  • Purchased by Regional Council: 2009


Refurbishment has benefits for region’s Civil Defence response

Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s refurbishment of its Tauranga Regional House building will have added benefits for the region’s civil defence response.

The work includes plans to incorporate the Group Emergency Coordination Centre (GECC). This means one level of Wallingford House, which is located adjacent to Regional House along the Strand Extension, will become a dedicated Civil Defence workspace once other work has been completed.

As prescribed by the Bay of Plenty Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Group Plan 2012-2017, the Regional Council has a responsibility to provide the region with a GECC. The GECC is a facility from which the CDEM Group Controller coordinates a regional response to emergency events.

Property Manager Annabel Chappell said the decision to locate the GECC in Wallingford House made sense for a number of reasons, including its proximity to many of the Civil Defence Emergency Management partners such as Fire, Police and the Regional Council’s Maritime Team. The latter will be located in neighbouring Regional House and have its response equipment stored on the ground floor of Wallingford House. The site also benefits from dual access via The Strand extension and Elizabeth Street, providing secondary access should one of the routes be blocked.

“Natural hazard modelling has been carried out and we found that once the building has been upgraded to an Importance Level 4 category, the GECC would handle scenarios including earthquakes, the largest tsunami event modelled and sea level rise.

“Because of the work being taken to upgrade Regional House there is no risk to the building from debris falling either.”

Emergency Management Bay of Plenty Director Clinton Naude said the location would have many benefits should a response for any event be required.

“During large scale events the GECC is often staffed by Regional Council employees, so the proximity of Regional House means that this access would be hugely efficient.

“It also means we can leverage off the sustainable design features that are being incorporated into the Regional House refurbishment, such as an independent back up power supply and emergency water storage.”

Group Emergency Coordination Centre Key Facts

  • Budgeted costs for redevelopment are included in the Long Term Plan 2015-2025
  • Timeframe: six months following the completion of the work on Regional House 
  • Location: The Strand extension

Key features:

  • Dedicated Emergency Coordination Centre for the Bay of Plenty
  • Building able to be upgraded to achieve 100% of Importance Level 4 requirements
  • Proximity to CDEM partners and additional personnel from the Regional Council should a large scale event occur
  • Dual access routes
  • Opportunity to leverage off design features that can will be incorporated in the Regional House refurbishment
  • Opportunity for other agencies to utilise the emergency coordination centre to support emergency events other than civil defence events
  • Provides for a realistic and dedicated training environment for staff involved in emergency management