If a proposed housing development in Bethlehem goes ahead, it won't be until Tauranga City Council has addressed questions raised by its communities.
At its first meeting this year, the council considered community feedback on its proposal to develop a 22ha area of land known as Parau Farms for much needed housing. The land is part of a wider land area culturally known as Pōteriwhi.
Commission Chair Anne Tolley thanks everyone who took the time to share their thoughts and reiterates that it’s still early days with many steps to go through before any homes can be built on the site.
"We've received some valuable feedback which will all be considered in our decision-making and planning before we go any further. People have raised some very valid questions, particularly around preserving green space and providing infrastructure, and they deserve to be answered,” she says.
She says the land falls in the rohe of Ngāti Ranginui iwi including the hapū of Ngāti Kahu and Ngāti Hangarau who have reminded us of a wealth of information regarding the historical, cultural and ancestral significance of the area
“The hapū are still working on further detail to that feedback which will provide essential guidance on future options. We are working closely together to bring that through in a timely manner.”
Bought by the council in the early 2000s for the purpose of providing future sports fields, the land is close to shops, schools and on a public transport route, making it ideally placed to provide much needed homes instead. The council is exploring alternative options for sports fields and aims to have a revised plan in place this year.
Of the 159 submissions received, 30% were in support and 68% opposed the proposal. Bethlehem residents represented 40% of respondents, with the remainder distributed fairly evenly across Tauranga. Younger age groups, up to age 34, were most supportive of the proposal with those in the 55 to 64 age group being most opposed.
Anne says the stark reality is that many people in Tauranga are already living in substandard or overcrowded housing situations and the city is heading for a shortfall of more than 1100 homes in the next three years. However, no decision on whether to sell the Parau Farms land for housing will be made until council has had an opportunity to consider all the feedback and find answers to the questions raised by the community.
“Council will continue to engage with mana whenua about the proposal and once feedback has been received, another report will be considered before a decision is made on the proposal.”