Here to Where Whangarei - Slide.

Civic centre

As our District grows we need to ensure that we keep up; planning where to build new infrastructure, encouraging growth in the right locations and making sure the we keep up with ratepayers needs and expectations.

We are seeking your feedback on the location of a new Civic Centre which will help deliver a more effective and efficient service for our growing District.

Cities around the world are often developed around a civic centre, where a range of civic activities are housed close to each other. Think of Wellington waterfront, Aotea square in Auckland.

Clustering related activities and people into a civic centre increases convenience for customers, increases the population in the locality, improves diversity and enables synergies between different built environments (offices, retail, eateries, pocket parks etc.) that improve vitality and economy.

Whangarei’s civic centre on Rust Avenue at Forum North combines the Capitaine Bougainville theatre, the Exhibition hall, Council offices and Council Chambers, the Central Library and the Old Library. However, many of the buildings here are too small and overdue for major work, and staff and functions are still split over several locations.

Over the past several years we have been exploring how we create a civic centre that is suitable for our growing city, and how we can accommodate our staff in one central location.

We are seeking your feedback on where to locate our Civic Centre.

This plan allocates $30 million for a new civic centre, on top of $7 million we’ve already included in the 2017-18 financial year.

We are seeking your feedback on three options.

1. Proceeding with the redevelopment of Forum North

This would entail partial demolition and rebuild of some parts to add resilience for emergency management; with complete refurbishment of other parts to bring the building up to current compliance standards, including seismic retrofit of the current Forum North building structures, re-roofing, interior upgrades to all facilities (including community shared spaces) to a modern working environment standard, including necessary accessibility requirements.


  • Despite the issues noted above, this site is already well established as a civic precinct.


  • Given the age and design of the buildings, the cost per m2 to refurbish will be higher than a new building
  • This means there would be inadequate funding to expand the footprint to allow for future growth
  • There would be significant disruption to services for around 18 months while improvements are made
  • The refurbished building would not be as sustainable or energy efficient and would have higher operating costs than a new building.

2. Developing new office premises and Council Chambers on the adjacent RSA site

When this site was purchased in 2017 it was noted that it had several potential uses, including new civic premises, a new theatre/performing arts centre, or additional carparking.

This site would allow us to construct new premises that complement the existing library and public spaces.


  • new purpose-built premises that are sustainable and energy efficient
  • retains the civic centre in the current area
  • allows alternative use of administration buildings at Forum North
  • we already own the site.


  • re-establishes the civic centre away from the city core
  • limited parking directly next to the building, as there would be little room to add more public spaces. However, the current Forum North carpark would remain
  • little room for future expansion

3. Developing new premises in the city centre; possibly in conjunction with the private development of a hotel and/or conference centre

We could purchase a new site; or alternatively work with an existing owner and/or property developer to develop a building to our specification and budget.


  • new purpose-built premises that are sustainable and energy efficient
  • this investment and subsequent activity could provide the catalyst for other developments in the city
  • aligns with the Whangarei City Centre Plan, which is our shared strategic vision for the city centre
  • allows alternative use of administration buildings at Forum North


  • likely to be a more expensive option as we don’t currently own a suitable site
  • any cost to purchase a site would lead to a slightly reduced scope (assuming the budget is not increased to allow for land purchase)
  • would need to consider impacts on parking in city centre
Debt funding in the plan* Impact on rates**
Option 1 Forum North (refurbished) $28 million Annual impact per ratepayer – $38.66
Option 2 RSA $30 million Annual impact per ratepayer – $37.19
Option 3 New CBD Development $30 million Annual impact per ratepayer – $37.19

* On top of $7 million in 2017-18 Annual Plan

** The average impact on rates is based on a residential property with a land value of $170,000 and a capital value of $380,000 and on the preferred rating option outlined in this plan – see page 24-25

For more information take a look at the consultation document →

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