New NRC Kaipara service centre office for 2019?

22 Jan 2018, 11:37 AM

A new Dargaville-based customer service centre to cater for an increased number of field staff working with Kaipara residents is being considered by the Northland Regional Council (NRC).

The council’s Dargaville-based staff moved from their long-held Victoria St base into the existing Kaipara District Council (KDC) building in Hokianga Rd in mid-2016, largely to better serve the two councils’ shared ratepayer base from a single site.

However, regional councillor Penny Smart says the district council building now lacks the required space to cope with a planned expansion that would boost the number of Kaipara-based NRC field centre staff from its current two to as many as 10 over the next five years.

Kaipara-based Cr Smart, who chairs the regional council’s Property Sub-Committee, says a potential solution lies with the purchase late last year of a property at 32 Hokianga Rd, just a stone’s throw from the district council.

The regional council – which paid $465,000 for the property from its Property Reinvestment Fund – is considering redeveloping it into an independent and fit-for-purpose customer service centre that would form part of its wider investment property portfolio.

“Council sees it as a strategic and longer-term investment in both Dargaville and the wider Kaipara area due to its proximity to both Whangarei and Auckland.”

Councillor Smart says a design recommendation – including likely construction costs – is expected to go before councillors later this year, with current tenants (including Big River FM) remaining in the existing building in the meantime.

While the design was yet to be finalised, she says any redevelopment is likely to centre around construction of a modern two-storey building.

That way, the ground level floor could be allocated for re-establishment of a Kaipara customer service centre and associated office space for potentially more than a dozen council staff, a likely mix of up to 10 permanently-based Kaipara and several ‘hot-desking’ employees from the wider organisation.

“The second floor will probably be commercially tenanted office space for interested, locally active parties, for instance lawyers or accountants.”

Assuming it goes ahead, Cr Smart says development of the site would mean the regional and district councils’ shared ratepayer base would have only a brief walk between the respective offices when doing business with either of the local authorities.

She says construction of a new Northland Regional Council Kaipara service centre would probably take several months and realistically, was unlikely to start before 2019.