P.M. calls for open minds in Apia Waterfront Plan

Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, has called for open minds and for members of the public to think of the possibilities in relation to the Apia Waterfront Plan. Launched on Monday, the Apia Waterfront Project, a joint initiative by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (through the Planning and Urban Management Agency) and the Samoa Tourism Authority on the development of the Apia waterfront area. This is what the government says about the plan:

The Waterfront Plan

Many coastal cities around the world are looking to their waterfronts to revitalise urban centres and encourage sustainable tourism.  

There is great opportunity for the Apia Waterfront to become a unique and distinctive place, setting it apart from other destinations in the Pacific region. 

The Waterfront Plan is a strategic plan that will create an attractive urban environment, boosting the wellbeing of our people and the economy of Samoa.  

It will be designed to be a model for how cities and towns on island nations can build their resilience to climate change and natural disasters through careful planning and community engagement.  It will also encourage tourists to stay longer in Apia.

The Waterfront Plan will guide growth and development of the waterfront area over the next ten or so years in line with the following vision: “The Apia Waterfront is an attractive destination connecting people to unique places and Samoan experiences”.  

There will be a strong focus on creating an inclusive, safe and clean waterfront for locals and visitors alike to enjoy.  Improving the Apia Waterfront will also help to showcase Apia as one of the leading sustainable tourism destinations in the Pacific region: opening Samoa up for investment and creating more jobs and business opportunities for locals.

The Waterfront Plan has been achieved as a result of an extensive and dynamic community engagement process that involved people of all ages and walks of life. 

Feedback was received from village communities, sporting associations, community groups, private sector businesses, non-government organisations, government line agencies and many individual community members.  

Their important contributions resulted in an innovative planning process and a shared vision for the Apia Waterfront.

The design concept for the Apia Waterfront is moderate in ambition with regard to Samoa’s context, scale and development needs.  A number of attractions are proposed to transform the waterfront and encourage more locals and visitors to use this significant asset:

• Seawalk: continuous shared path and boardwalks linking waterfront activities and stories;

• Museums: major attractions at Mulinu’u Point (natural sciences discovery centre) and Harbour area (museum showcasing waterfront history and stories);

• Central park: a gathering place for Samoans at Eleele Fou including sporting fields, swimming lagoon, all-abilities playground and outdoor performance space;

• Markets and public square: a redeveloped public space to accommodate authentic markets and stimulate positive and inclusive civic activity;

• Beaches: safe recreational areas for locals and visitors to enjoy water-based activities at the marina area, Eleele Fou and Mulinu’u Point;

• Art and culture: opportunities to showcase Samoa’s culture and heritage through an art and sculpture walk, building design and interpretive signage; and

• Mixed-use zones: opportunities for mixed-use residential and commercial developments to encourage more people to use the waterfront and central town area.

The Apia Waterfront will develop incrementally but strategically over time, using available resources and investments.  All government agencies and stakeholders are called upon to ensure a coordinated approach to implementing the Waterfront Plan, ensuring that the agreed future vision is achieved.  Developers and investors will be able to refer to the Waterfront Plan for potential development opportunities and ensure consistency with the waterfront policies. The project has been supported with financial assistance from the Government of New Zealand (through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade) as well as technical assistance from Local Government New Zealand.

The Project Unit released a Discussion Paper in late 2015 to seek input from the public and other stakeholders on possible opportunities and ideas for development of the waterfront area, including challenges and concerns that they might have.  Feedback and comments received from this first stakeholder engagement were used to assist in development of the draft Waterfront Plan, which was released on 1 September 2016 for feedback.

Key Messages

The Project Unit has been working over the past twelve months to develop the Waterfront Plan based on stakeholder consensus and agreement.

Two phases of community engagement as well as a range of key stakeholder consultations and activities have helped to inform development of the Waterfront Plan.

The Waterfront Plan is a strategic plan to guide growth and development of the waterfront area over the next ten or so years. It intends to stimulate economic growth, encourage tourism development, provide attractive community spaces, and ensure a climate-resilient waterfront.

All future developments in the waterfront area will need to be consistent with the five goals, ten strategies and range of waterfront policies set out in the Waterfront Plan. The document outlines the process for considering development proposals in the waterfront area.

Next Steps

An implementation plan has been developed to outline a ‘packaged’ approach to developing capital works along the waterfront.  This will allow potential investors and development partners to implement a defined package of works within a particular area long the waterfront.

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