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Published: 2014-05-02 00:00:00

The regional council has confirmed its support for the development of a draft spatial plan for the Waikato at a meeting this week.

In supporting this Waikato Mayoral Forum workstream, councillor Bob Simcock said: “Spatial planning is core business and it's essential that all decision-makers for the Waikato have a common voice and use the same base data.”

A report to the meeting said the objective of a spatial plan would be to contribute to the region’s social, economic, environmental and cultural wellbeing through a comprehensive and effective long-term strategy for Waikato’s growth and development.

“It's pleasing to see the majority of the region's local councils working collaboratively to create a resource which will contribute to greater local government efficiency and co-ordination in Waikato,” said chairperson Paula Southgate.

The council’s decision to support a spatial plan comes after the mayoral forum, made up of district and city council mayors and Ms Southgate, agreed earlier this year that there was enough evidence to progress developing such a spatial plan, and sought a commitment from interested councils to support it.

The forum’s governance and planning working party has suggested such a plan could help save millions of dollars over time, create greater efficiencies and facilitate a collective Waikato voice on key issues when dealing with central Government.

The report to this week’s council meeting said there was no current mechanism in Waikato through which high priority regional issues and opportunities can be explored, other than statutory committees such as the Regional Transport Committee.

“A Waikato spatial plan provides an opportunity for the Waikato to have a strategic conversation to identify priorities that contribute to the Waikato’s social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being over the next 20-30 years,” the report said.

It said a draft spatial plan was due to be completed by the end of 2014.

The council also agreed with progressing the draft spatial plan under the direction of a joint committee involving representatives from the region’s councils. The draft structure and terms of reference will be brought back to the council for further discussion.

Cr Southgate noted the importance of involving iwi “at the front end of the conversation due to their recognised strength in the region”.