Tauranga is growing fast and we need to use the land we have more effectively to help address our city’s shortage of housing.
Christine Jones, General Manager of Strategy and Growth said that the government’s draft National Policy Statement on urban development stressed the urgency for urban growth areas to grow up instead of out, and that city plan rules need to become more enabling of intensification, fast.
“Work on these topics is picking up pace at Tauranga City Council” Christine said.
“Engagement with partners and the community is in full swing to shape future growth in the Te Papa peninsula, which is our number one candidate for increased housing density”, she said.
“In parallel our planners are hard at work preparing proposals to change the city plan rules.”
“These plan changes aim to give people the choice to build more varied types of housing across the city like duplexes and townhouses, and to help deliver higher density like apartment buildings in and around centres, starting in Te Papa.”
The Te Papa peninsula was selected as it is centrally located and already has good infrastructure for schools, parks and water, opportunity to improve transport to support growth, and is low risk from natural hazards. Enabling more people to live in Te Papa makes good use of these existing investments.
Council is currently engaging with the local community to develop a blueprint for change for the peninsula, to support healthy growth. The city plan changes will create the policy and rules to enable this future.
But plan changes take time. In a bid to accelerate the process, Tauranga City councillors have agreed to explore the use of the streamlined planning process, a planning pathway provided through the Resource Management Act and approved by the Minister for the Environment.
The streamlined planning process (SPP) would replace the standard Schedule 1 planning process and should allow council to shave at least nine months off the timeframe for the proposed intensification and stormwater plan changes (PC 26, 27 and 28).
The main differences between the two processes are:
- Steps under the SPP are more flexible than under the standard process, and can be tailored to suit the planning issues involved.
- Under the SPP, the ultimate decision on the plan changes is made by the Minister for the Environment – instead of the local council – based on the recommendation of a panel or an independent commissioner.
- There is no right of appeal to the Environment Court under the SPP – which is key in making the process shorter – but it must include consultation and a submission process which get reviewed by the Minister. It can also include other negotiation options such as mediation.
While in the main councillors supported the SPP as a way to accelerate the plan changes, they asked that staff work to ensure it doesn’t compromise the ability for the community to have their views heard.
The next step is for council to engage on using the SPP with key partners including the Bay of Plenty Regional Council and mana whenua through Te Rangapū Mana Whenua o Tauranga Moana (previously known as the Tauranga Moana Tangata Whenua Collective).
Engagement with the wider community on the proposed plan changes is progressing initially through the Te Papa project. Further engagement and a formal submission/notification process will take place over the next year.
About the proposed plan changes
The draft intensification plan changes (PC 26 and 28) propose to enable duplex and low rise comprehensive developments in the suburban residential zone across the city, subject to infrastructure and natural hazard constraints. They also propose to enable medium density/medium rise development in some parts of the Te Papa peninsula. In addition, proposed changes to the City Living and Commercial zones (which already provide for increased densities) will focus on making the city plan provisions more workable, and improving urban design outcomes in these zones.
The proposed plan change on flooding (PC 27) looks at the rules we would need to have in place to enable future development and redevelopment in Tauranga without increasing the risk of flooding from intense rainfall events (e.g. mitigation measures in flood-prone areas, overland flow paths, managing impervious areas).