A plan to turn a former halfway house into shared accommodation has sparked opposition from neighbours in Tauranga.

Backpacking hostel owner Memphis Robson-Fentz wants to use the 14-bedroom house in Cherrywood as a home away from home for seasonal workers staying in Tauranga for months at a time.

But to make it a viable business, she says she needs to increase the number of residents from the council-permitted eight to a maximum of 27.

Many of her neighbours are not happy with the plan, and a council planner says the proposal sounds more like a backpackers - something Robson-Fentz was adamant it was not.

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A resource consent application to Tauranga City Council, submitted in August, attracted eight opposition submissions from neighbours.

Concerns included the potential for excess noise, more traffic, more smelly rubbish, guests taking all the on-street parking, strangers peeping over fences and dropping property values. All submitters said they had already had problems with the property.

Neighbour Kimberley Jordan said the proposal was not in step with the quiet, residential character of the neighbourhood.

"Twenty-seven people would be a nightmare."

Robson-Fentz said the trust she represented took out a long-term lease on the property in early 2016 and, after interior cosmetic renovations, welcomed their first guests that August.

There were some "teething problems" that impacted neighbours in the early days but Robson-Fentz said she took swift action and had continued to make improvements since.

"I'm a quiet business person. I don't want trouble."

A council call just before Christmas in 2016 was how she found out the property had an eight-person occupancy limit. She said she had about 20 guests at the time.

She reduced numbers over summer by natural attrition and engaged experts to prepare a resource consent application to "formalise" the shared accommodation for up to 27 residents.

Tauranga was desperately lacking in long-term accommodation for seasonal workers and people on working holidays, she said.

She reckoned her plan was also a better option for the neighbours than a halfway house or a residential rental, as a resource consent would give them power to have strict council rules enforced.

She said her previous attempts to talk to neighbours had not gone well but she hoped for more "open dialogue". One neighbour was on board.

Neighbour of 32 years John O'Hearn was "quite happy" with the plan. He said it was up to the council to make sure it met regulations.

"Before she got there it was a halfway house for a number of wayward chaps and, boy, we had some trouble there."

A council planner has raised issues with the application, including an opinion that the proposal was "akin to a backpackers" rather than being strictly shared accommodation.

Robson-Fentz said it was not a backpackers and only people who intended to stay a month or more would be accepted - but sometimes people's plans changed unexpectedly.

The council's manager of environmental planning, Shanan Miles, said the application would go to an independent commissioner where the applicant and submitters would present their cases. No hearing date had been set.


503 Otumoetai Rd

- 365sq m dwelling
- 660sq m site
- 14 bedrooms
- 3.5 bathrooms
- shared kitchen
- shared living and courtyard
- 3 on site parks

House rules
- No non-resident guests allowed on the property
- No loud music or gatherings
- Restricted use of outdoor areas
- No alcohol or drugs
- Allocated parking areas
- Night warden on site to deal with issues