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Plan Change 27 – Flooding from intense rainfall events

Over the next 100 years it is predicted Tauranga, along with the rest of NZ, will experience the effects of climate change, including more intense rainfall events and sea level rise. This will increase the flooding risk within Tauranga which council needs to address.

To understand the risk of flooding in Tauranga a risk assessment was completed that considered a 1.25m sea level rise for the next 100 years (as per the requirements of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council Regional Policy Statement (RPS)). The risk assessment identified the whole of Tauranga is at high risk. Under the RPS, Tauranga City Council is required to reduce the risk of flooding to low risk over time.

We are working to make it easier for people to build more compact homes in Tauranga, like duplexes, terraced houses and apartments, through the proposed Housing Choice city plan change. Plan Change 27 follows the same timeframes as the Housing Choice plan change to ensure that we are not encouraging people to build higher density in unsuitable locations – like areas likely to be flooded in intense rainfall events.

Proposed approach

How can we enable future development and redevelopment without increasing flood risk?

We’re proposing to add some rules to the city plan on what and how you can build in three types of floodable areas: overland flowpaths, floodplains and flood prone areas; and to manage impervious surfaces on new developments.

We are currently working on developing and testing the proposed rules, and on updating our flood maps. We will bring this information to the community for your feedback when we notify the plan change later in 2020. In the meantime, here’s some information on what we’re looking at.

An overland flowpath is the route of least resistance taken by water from a rainfall event, making its way downhill towards streams, harbour and coast. Overland flowpaths flow through roads, stormwater reserves and private property. Obstructing an overland flowpath can lead to flooding.

Overland flowpaths are part of the city’s stormwater system and need to be protected in order to reduce the impacts of flooding on people and property across the city. We categorise overland flowpaths into major and minor using criteria of depth and velocity: the amount/depth and speed of water that could flow through them in a significant rainfall event.

overland flowpath
Roads like this one in Mount Maunganui take on the role of overland flowpaths in intense rainfall events

Floodplains are areas situated next to a river or stream. They carry out the important function of water storage during a flood event.

Like overland flowpaths, floodplains are part of the city’s stormwater system and need to be protected to reduce impacts on people and property. The depth, velocity (speed of flow) and volume of the water in a floodplain in a significant rainfall event can present a risk to life.

The land in the valley along the Kopurererua River is a floodplain

Flood prone areas are locations where ponding of water occurs in an intense rainfall event. The flow of the water in flood prone areas is much slower than in floodplains and overland flowpaths. Flood prone areas generally occur in areas where there is a depression in the land.

flood prone area
A flood prone area in Omanu

Frequently asked questions

Want more information or have some questions? You may find your answer in the list of FAQs below.

For the purposes of proposed Plan Change 27, an intense rainfall event is a 1-in-100-years rainfall event, taking into account 1.25m sea level rise and future climate change to 2130.

Over the next 100 years it is predicted Tauranga, along with the rest of NZ, will experience the effects of climate change, including more intense rainfall events and sea level rise. This will increase the flooding risk within Tauranga which council needs to address.

The Regional Council’s Regional Policy Statement (RPS) sets out the requirements for managing natural hazards in the Bay of Plenty, and every council within the region is required to give effect to it.

The RPS requires Tauranga City Council to plan for flood events of a scale that occur, on average, once every 100 years, considering the effects of a projected 1.25m sea level rise by 2130. This is considered best planning practice and more and more councils across New Zealand are now planning to this level.

We are currently developing the rules for what and how people can build in overland flowpaths, floodplains and flood prone areas. In parallel we are updating our flood hazard maps based on a 1-in-100-years flood event with 1.25m sea level rise and future climate to 2130.

We will share the proposed rules and the updated maps with the community later in 2020, likely in the second half of the year, when we formally notify the plan change.

To all properties that we identify as being in an overland flowpath, a floodplain or a flood prone area, we will send updated mapping information, details on the proposed plan change and the opportunity to provide feedback on the draft city plan rules.

We are currently working through the mapping of the overland flowpaths, floodplains and flood prone areas, and the drafting and testing of the plan change provisions and therefore are not in a position yet to identify what properties are located within these areas.

We are continuously working to improve the information we hold on natural hazards and their effects on our land. Through proposed Plan Change 27 we are updating our flood hazard maps. This updated mapping models the same type of storm event, but it also takes into account a 1.25 metre sea level rise and future climate change to 2130. This is consistent with the requirements of the Regional Policy Statement.

Along with the updated maps, through Plan Change 27 we are proposing new rules within the Tauranga City Plan to manage land use and subdivision in different type of floodable areas: overland flowpaths, floodplains and flood prone areas.

Once the plan change is formally notified, we are required to make information on flooding available upon request. This includes adding the information on each property’s land information memorandum (LIM) report. If you’d like information on any effect this information may have on property value or insurance, we recommend you seek professional advice from a property valuation or insurance expert.

For this proposed plan change, we are looking into using the streamlined planning process. This is a planning pathway provided through the Resource Management Act and approved by the Minister for the Environment, which we're considering using as an alternative to the standard Schedule 1 planning process. Read more about this here


If you have questions on Plan Change 27, you can email us on cityplan@tauranga.govt.nz or call us on +64 7 577 7000

Shape your city

How do you want to shape your city and your neighbourhoods to support growth? We are working on a blueprint for growth in the Te Papa peninsula, and on changes to the city plan to enable more housing choice. Give us your feedback on our ideas by Tuesday 19 May.

Have your say - Shape your city



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