Tauranga is growing, and like all major cities, we’re in the thick of a housing crisis. We’re short of homes, house prices have skyrocketed, and suitable bare land available for development is limited. There’s also very little choice in the type and size of homes available, with the three/four-bedroom, standalone house still the standard throughout Tauranga.
Commission Chair Anne Tolley says there’s no two ways about it: “Tauranga needs to grow up. And we’ve been given strict direction by central Government to enable this, fast.”
Late last year, the Government passed a piece of legislation to help grow New Zealand cities: the Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2021. It directs the councils of high-growth cities, including Tauranga, to amend their city plans so that they:
- allow people to build up to three dwellings of up to three storeys (a height of 11 metres) on most sections in residential zones, without needing to obtain a resource consent
- enable higher density housing with more building height around the city centre and town centres across the city, and close to public transport.
Council is required by the Amendment Act to change the Tauranga City Plan to enable this, through a plan change which must be notified to the community for feedback by 20 August this year.
Anne observes that the timeframes set by the Government are ambitious “to say the least”.
“As a territorial authority, we would have liked to have more influence over the rules for medium density developments, which are now prescribed by the Amendment Act – especially as we were working on this through our proposed Housing Choice plan change,” she says.
“But there’s no denying Tauranga needs more permissive planning rules for higher density developments. We need this so our community has more housing choice, and hopefully more affordable options. We also need this to help transform our urban landscape, especially around commercial areas like the city centre, so we’re embracing the challenge”.
The proposed plan change will also allow the council to implement several existing planning projects:
- the City Centre Strategy refresh (under development) which aims to bring more people to live in the city centre and will help provide direction on what type of residential development is encouraged, who we will work with to enable this and how we’ll support this with council investment
- the Te Papa Plan (completed), a 30-year plan for growth and change along the Te Papa peninsula, which runs from Greerton through the city centre to the harbour bridge. Parts of Te Papa will provide for increased density such as apartment living and townhouses/terraced houses
- the Ōtūmoetai Spatial Plan (under development, now seeking community feedback) – a 30-year plan for growth for the suburbs of Ōtūmoetai, Matua, Brookfield, Bellevue and Judea. This plan aims to ensure we have enough homes, suitable ways to get around and community spaces to support the wellbeing of everyone who lives in the area.
The community will be able to have their say on the Enabling Housing Supply plan change through a submission process starting in late-August this year.
More information is available at Changing the city plan to enable housing supply.