Business North Dec / Jan 2022

| 29 Tauranga Council DEVELOPMENT Growth delivery complex for council Richard Loader Tauriko West, Tauranga’s next greenfield urban development, requires government investment in the transport network. For decades Tauranga has enjoyed year on year growth and projects that over the next 45 years an additional 35,000 new homes will be required to meet demand. In February this year the Hon Nanaia Mahuta, Minister of Local Government, replaced the elected Tauranga City Council with the appointment of a Commission to Tauranga City Council (the Council), noting issues around growth, infrastructure provisions and housing supply. In September, as required by the Government’s National Policy Statement on Urban Development (NPS-UD), the Council wrote to the Minister of Environment, Hon David Parker, advising that Tauranga City had insufficient development capacity to comply with the relevant provisions of the NPS-UD. The NPS-UD sets the Council’s requirements for the urban growth and defines Councils in tiers. Tauranga falls into the category of a Tier One high growth Council. NPS-UD requires Councils to deliver sufficient business and residential land to meet expected growth along with a 20% buffer for residential land. The buffer exists because not every owner of residential zoned and serviceable land chooses to develop it for a range of reasons and therefore it is insufficient for Councils to have just enough land to meet demand. Christine Jones, Tauranga City Council’s GM Strategy and Growth says the Council looked at all the land currently zoned for residential development, what it thought could be rezoned residential and what could be serviced with three waters, transport and community facilities. “We projected how many dwellings were likely to proceed and identified the base shortfall in supply, factoring in the 20% buffer. With what we need in one to three years inclusive of margin there’s a shortfall of 1119 new homes. “In the medium four to ten year term, if we can bring on all the planned development we’re expecting then we will be 376 dwelling short inclusive of the 20% buffer. “We will be in a much better position in that medium term, but that relies on the new housing developments in Tauriko West and Te Tumu along with more intensified housing in existing urban areas coming on stream.” Christine says Tauranga’s biggest issue is the mandatory requirement to have sufficient zoned and infrastructure enabled development land and that it must be feasible for the developer to do the work and make a profit. “You can have a whole lot of zoned and serviced land but if it’s not viable for the developer to do it, the land won’t be progressed. “The impact for Tauranga is that currently we cannot meet the NPS-UD requirement in terms of the quantum of supply and as I understand it we’re the only Tier One Council in New Zealand that’s not meeting it. “Under the policy the Council has to let the Minister know that there’s non-compliance but we have been raising this issue for some period of time. There are no penalties as such but these are very difficult problems to solve.” There are several issues affecting the supply of sufficient land ready to be developed. Tauriko West has capacity for 3000 – 4000+ homes, with Stage One offering 2000 homes but three key reasons currently stand in the way of development. The first is that development is dependent upon a transport solution on the State Highway and the Waka Kotahi NZTA business case process needs to be complete and funding confirmed for the upgrades that are needed from the transport perspective. There is also the issue of how to fund the $230 million infrastructure that is required and the Council is currently working on a range of funding streams. The third issue is that it needs to be zoned under the Resource Management Act (RMA) which is a lengthy and complex process, with the zoning area impacted by the recent National Policy Statement for freshwater management. “That Policy Statement is impacting on urban growth in that it’s reducing the area that can be developed. There’s some concern that it protects areas that don’t need to be protected. The Government is now revising that Policy Statement and it’s out for consultation. When it’s finalised we will be able to move forward.” Then there is the Te Temu development on the eastern corridor past Papamoa with capacity for 6000 plus homes. It is also affected by the National Policy statement on freshwater management and has infrastructure funding challenges as well and the need to go through a multiple-Māori owned land block to enable civil construction of three waters infrastructure and transport requirements. The Maori Land Trust is working through the processes to consider enabling infrastructure to go through, dealing with thousands of individuals. “Delivery of growth is a complex issue with planning, policy and legislative matters to be complied with,” says Christine. “You’re talking about hundreds of millions of dollars of investment. “Our Commission made some substantive decisions in the last Long Term Plan and the rate rise was over 20% with the average rate rises over the next three years 12.25% per annum. “Council is rating to provide balance sheet capacity so that we can invest in infrastructure. That’s a lot of pressure going into our community to fund the required infrastructure. There are also landowner issues as well that need to be worked through.” Since 2001 the Tauranga City Council has been in partnership with the Western Bay of Plenty District Council, the Bay of Plenty Regional Council and local Tangata whenua through SmartGrowth, a partnership designed to reach agreement where and how the Bay of Plenty is going to grow. In recent times the Government has joined the partnership with Minister Megan Woods and Minister Nanaia Mahuta sitting around the governance table. “SmartGrowth looks at the whole of the sub region, and determines where business and residential land will be physically located, and where density will be increased in existing urban areas. It also looks at what sort of community we’re trying to create, how the transport network will work and principles around protecting productive soils.” It is likely the SmartGrowth partnership will play a key role in meeting Tauranga’s critical housing requirements. “You can have a whole lot of zoned and serviced land but if it’s not viable for the developer to do it, the land won’t be progressed.”