What has been decided?

Welcome | Nau Mai

The Long Term Plan has been adopted following extensive community consultation and deliberations. This is our roadmap for the projects and services we intend to deliver over the next 10 years,

It has not been easy to develop this plan, which balances the need to keep our district moving while keeping rates increases acceptable.

During the consultation, we received a huge response and we’re grateful to our community for their enthusiasm and commitment to the future of our district.

We look forward to continuing the conversations about Our Place with you and working together to help make Ashburton the district of choice for lifestyle and opportunity - Hakatere: te rohe ka whiria mō te āhua noho, me te hapori.

The 5 Key Decisions

We’ll introduce a new green waste kerbside collection service from 2026 to meet resident demand and reduce landfill waste.

The Government mandated the introduction of a food waste collection service by 2027, so we asked our community how they wanted us to provide this service. We presented two options, either introducing a green waste collection service (for both food and green waste) or providing just the mandatory food waste service. A clear majority of submitters supported the Council’s preferred option of introducing a full green waste service. Council has agreed and will introduce this service to all residential kerbside collection users from September 2026.

Council will not invest in water-based leisure and that means the Tinwald Pool will close permanently. We will be working together with the Tinwald Reserve Board on an alternative for the site.

We asked our community if we should spend around $3 million on a water-based leisure project, and if so, where it should be spent. We provided five options: refurbishing Tinwald Pool, creating a new waterplay area at Ashburton Domain, building an outdoor pool at EA Networks Centre, building a hydro slide at EA Networks Centre, or doing nothing. The feedback we received on this topic was split with most submitters supporting either the Tinwald Pool refurbishment or an outdoor pool at EA Networks Centre . Many people also raised concerns about unnecessary spending and the impact on rates. After considering all the feedback, Council decided against proceeding with any water-based leisure project at this time. This means that Tinwald Pool will be permanently closed, however Council has asked staff to work with the Tinwald Reserve Board to find an alternative activity for the site.

The Polytech land will be redeveloped in an unsealed carpark and Council retains the Balmoral Hall and the site for two more years, or until the Hall becomes unusable, whereby the hall is sold or demolished.

We asked for feedback on the future of Balmoral Hall and the old Polytech land in Ashburton, as the hall needed significant repairs to make it viable for future use. The three options provided to the community, included retaining and repairing the Balmoral Hall & Polytech site, selling both sites, or demolishing or relocating the buildings and redeveloping the site. The majority of submitters supported the sale of both sites. However, there were others who suggested selling the Polytech Land to help fund the hall project and using the land for carparking. Council has decided to demolish or relocate the buildings on the Polytech site and redevelop the land into an unsealed gravel car park, with $1.6 million budgeted in Year 1 of the Long Term Plan for the work. As for Balmoral Hall, Council will retain the hall for two years or until it becomes unusable, after which the building will be sold or demolished, with Council to retain ownership of the land. This allows time for current users of Balmoral Hall to find a suitable alternative location.

Council decided to exit the stockwater service by 30 June 2027. A working group will be established to tackle the key issues the community came forward with and develop a plan for the way forward.

Our fourth key topic focused on the future of the stockwater service provided by Council, with three options presented - stay and invest, maintain with a closure programme over time, or exit the service within the next three years. The majority of respondents supported exiting the stockwater service. However, many noted the complexity of the issues involved, including the protection of biodiversity and a lack of alternative water sources. Feedback also emphasised the need for a well-planned and inclusive approach to exiting the service. Council agreed to proceed with the preferred option and will exit the stockwater service by 30 June 2027. A project group, including two Councillors, will work through the issues raised by submitters and regularly report progress to Council. Council also agreed to increase the minimum charge to $700 to address funding inequities. Any races that remain open following the stockwater exit (for biodiversity, recreational or other purposes) will likely be funded by the general rate.

We agreed to the three-court extension but pushed the stadium extension out two more years to start in 2031.

We asked the community if we should extend the EA Networks Centre stadium and presented three options – a two-court extension, a three-court extension, or doing nothing. 52% of the submitters supported the three-court extension, citing the current level of demand, future growth and the opportunity for hosting large tournaments and events. Council agreed to the three-court extension but acknowledged community concerns around affordability and Council debt levels by delaying construction to Years 7-9 of the plan (2031-33), rather than Years 5-7 (2029-31).

Other decisions

As well as the five key decisions above, the draft Long Term Plan contained a range of other important projects and work that we wanted community feedback on. Submitters also raised several issues for Council to consider.

Ashburton – Tinwald second urban bridge

Many submitters provided feedback on the second bridge for the Ashburton River. Some were concerned about the location of the bridge, others urged the bridge to be built sooner rather than later, and some suggested that a bypass would be a better solution. Council remains committed to seeing the bridge built and have maintained a $7.5 million contribution toward the second bridge in the Plan. We’re currently awaiting confirmation from Government about the level of funding they will provide.

Despite significant and increased expenditure on roading, the community has expressed ongoing dissatisfaction with the state of the roading network. Alongside the extra $32 million for roading over the next three years that was included in the draft LTP, Council also approved a boost of $500,000 each year of unsubsidised funding for maintaining and improving unsealed roads within the district.

Ashburton Airport fees and charges
We received strong feedback on proposed changes to fees and charges for the Ashburton Airport for 2024/25, with many submitters asking for a return to an annual fee system for landings and ‘touch-and-go’s’. Council agreed and adopted a proposal from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for Year 1 on the plan (2024/25), which includes a $200 annual fee for unlimited landings and $12 charge for casual landings. Council will also explore alternative management and operational models for the Ashburton Airport with user groups.

Lake Hood water quality
Lake Hood has been affected by cyanobacteria algal blooms over the last two years, prompting public health notices which have restricted recreational use of the lake. We received 27 submissions urging Council to address water quality in the lake. In response, Council has included $200,000 in Year 1 for water quality work.

Some other projects and funding agreed are:

  • $15,000 annually in Years 1-3 to support a Youth Advisory Group being established by Base Youth Café.
  • $116,000 capital funding for the Methven Lighting Project
  • $75,000 to investigate alternative sites for the Methven Recovery Park, to accommodate population growth
  • $25,000 to investigate a district biking trail (Economic Development).
  • Up to $400,000 funding from reserve contributions to develop a mini golf course at EA Networks Centre.
  • The development of an Arts, Culture and Heritage Strategy in Year 2 (within current budget).

Long Term Plan Community Consultation