A significant upgrade of the main Whakatāne District Council office is set to begin this year and staff will soon be relocating to temporary office locations ahead of work commencing.

The building upgrade was approved through Council’s Long Term Plan 2021-31 earlier this year. It was agreed necessary to address issues and concerns with the building, and make a range of improvements to ensure it will be fit-for-purpose into the future.

The project will provide for core health, safety and security upgrades, greening components to improve environmental sustainability of the building, and enhancements to provide flexible and multi-functional use of space, with increased meeting rooms and collaborative work spaces. Council Chambers and public meeting rooms will be moved to the ground floor to make it easier for the public to access Council, and make modern meeting spaces available for the community to use.

Whakatāne District Council CFO and General Manager Business Partnering, Rob Trass says the redevelopment project has many moving parts, and the first is quite literally, to move out. “Vacating the Council building for the duration of the redevelopment enables the work to be achieved in a significantly shorter timeframe than if we were to work around staff within the building.”

“We have spent time through the planning stages to understand the impacts of the project on business continuity and this includes taking learnings from other councils, such as Bay of Plenty Regional Council, which have also been through similar projects in recent times.”

The temporary Customer Service Centre (front counter) where people can pay rates, discuss building plans and the like will be at 4 Commerce, the building next to the main Council offices.

Council meetings will be held at the Bay of Plenty Regional Council Chambers at 5 Quay Street for the duration of the redevelopment, unless stated otherwise.

Mr Trass notes the timeframe for the redevelopment project is 14 months. “We know there are factors outside of our control, including the ongoing impacts of Covid-19 on the construction sector, so while we know this timeframe is accurate at the moment, there is always the possibility that this will shift.”