John is a senior reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Bob Clarkson close to achieving planning breakthrough

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Bob Clarkson at his Tauriko property where wants to build a big subdivision. Photo/File
Bob Clarkson at his Tauriko property where wants to build a big subdivision. Photo/File

A major rethink of development priorities at Tauriko could see Tauranga developer Bob Clarkson building houses on his 200 hectare property in four years.

Mr Clarkson has welcomed the announcement that his farm beside the Wairoa River has been promoted for development ahead of orchard land in Keenan Rd, with a final decision expected in August.

However he said it was a travesty that it had taken so long to arrive at the conclusion that favoured his land and two neighbouring properties west of SH29 at Tauriko.

"I have fought and fought, and it saddens me that it took this long."

Mr Clarkson said rezoning from rural to residential would take a long time. "We needed this five years ago, so we could have had affordable houses."

His original plan was that 500 of his 2200 houses would have been heavily discounted. "The plan is getting a bit smudged now because it has taken so long. I had a dream and I was s**t on from a great height."

Quizzed on whether he would still offer discounted houses, Mr Clarkson said he would not be able to offer as good a deal as before, but there would still be 500 affordable houses for working families.

"It would have been a lot easier if I had done it before."

He explained that the laws of supply and demand had seen section prices and the cost of building materials spiral upwards. If he had been able to be dominate the market in terms of selling discounted houses, it would have reduced the pressure that had led to price hikes for houses in Tauranga.

A report to yesterday's joint-council SmartGrowth meeting was told that Tauriko West, which included the Clarkson land, had been promoted ahead of Keenan Rd that sat above the Pyes Pa Bypass opposite The Lakes.

The advantages of Tauriko West were that it offered 3000 lots, there was limited land ownership, it would be quicker to develop and would be developer funded rather than council being the lead funder. The other big block was owned by the Hopping family.

The fragmented ownership in Keenan Rd meant the council might have had to go banker for installing infrastructure. Keenan Rd offered 2000 lots, development would have to be sequenced and it had a more challenging topography including steep gullies.

Tauranga's Western Corridor Strategic Study identified that the most critical planning constraint was the cultural importance to Maori of the Wairoa River and, to a lesser degree, its importance for recreation and flood management role.

"Given the importance of this area to iwi and hapu and the risk associated with urban development in the Wairoa River catchment, it is recommended that formal consultation is undertaken with relevant iwi and hapu before a decision is made about the potential urbanisation of the Western Corridor," the study said.


Current and proposed development along Tauranga's western corridor

• Pyes Pa West residential including The Lakes: 248 hectares (underway)

• Tauriko Business Estate: 255 hectares (underway)

• Tauriko West residential: 346 hectares

• Keenan Rd residential: 275 hectares

• Lower Belk Rd industrial: 120 hectares

• Upper Belk Rd residential stage one: 255 hectares

• Upper Belk Rd residential stage two: 205 hectares

• Merrick Rd residential: 160 hectares

• Upper Joyce Rd residential: 135 hectares

- Bay of Plenty Times

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