A$11.7 million extension to a retirement village and a centre dedicated to help Tauranga's blind and deaf students have boosted building consents to record levels for March.

Tauranga City Council issued consents worth a record $59.63 million last month, led by Arataki's Somervale retirement village plan to build 70 care units and 16 serviced apartments on a 4500sq m site. The care block would include health, dining and communal facilities.

The total value of consents for March has soared 43 per cent on a year earlier, with new homes the biggest component worth $37.7 million - up 40 per cent. The value of all other consents rose nearly 50 per cent to $21.9 million.

Ministry of Education's $1.02 million Sensory Education Resource Centre was planned to be built by the end of the year on the corner of Carmichael and Bethlehem roads.


Jerome Sheppard, the ministry's head of education infrastructure, said the centre would help provide high quality education to students who needed extra support. It would give 17 specialist teachers a base to share resources and welcome students.

He said five Tauranga schools hosted 10 teachers from Kelston Deaf Education Centre, while the Blind and Low Vision Network's seven teachers were based in a leased property.

"The teachers from both these organisations will be able to relocate to the new shared purpose-built centre at Carmichael Rd."

More than 220 students would potentially use the new centre next to the Maori language school Te Wharekura o Mauao. It would feature teacher and administration spaces, multi-purpose areas, a resource library, a kitchen and staff room.

Council consents for March were also boosted by approvals for $3.4 million worth of new homes on prime locations at Mount Maunganui. They were 87 Marine Parade $1.2m, 31 Oceanbeach Rd $1.2m and 166 Oceanbeach Rd $1m.

Master Builders' Tauranga president Johnny Calley of Calley Homes said consistent growth over recent months seemed to have settled, with the trade upsizing to meet demand.

"The industry is still really busy and people should be prepared to wait for their preferred builder."

Mr Calley said they were seeing skilled labour returning from Australia. "All the trades are faring better than six months ago when there was a big combustion of consents."

Industry forecasters were expecting the boom would continue for the rest of the year, with developers selling bare land at a record pace, 12 to 18 months before they were able to issue titles.

Certified Builders immediate past president Mike Way of Way Builders said his customers were waiting at least six months before he was able to start their jobs. He had not gone longer than 48 hours since Christmas without getting an inquiry. It was disappointing to have to say no and refer people to other builders when it was only a little while ago that the phone never rung. Even his referral builders were so snowed under that they had asked him to stop putting business their way. Mr Way said everyone was struggling to get skilled labour. He heard of one builder who got a lot of replies from migrants to an advertisement, with only one applicant having the skills needed.

Tauranga building consents for March:

* Total consents: $59.63m (204 consents)

* Dwelling consents: $37.7m (104 consents/108 units)

* Commercial consents: $17.54m (24 consents)

* Additions and alterations: $4.4m (76 consents)

New homes by location:

* Mount Maunganui/Papamoa: 53 consents ($12.5m)

* Te Papa/Welcome Bay: 27 consents ($9.45m)

* Otumoetai/Bethlehem: 10 consents ($3.4m)

* Kaimai: 14 consents ($4.3m)