The Government has announced a billion-dollar fund to address the housing crisis in Tauranga and other fast-growth centres around the country, a move that has pleased the mayor and developers.
Yesterday's announcement from Finance Minister Bill English and Housing Minister Nick Smith involves the Government temporarily borrowing the money, which it will use to pay for housing development-related costs such as roading and water infrastructure.
Once the works were completed, the local council would have to pay the Government back, or buy the infrastructure from the Government.
Housing Minister Nick Smith said the fund would be available only for substantial new infrastructure investments that supported more new housing, not to replace existing infrastructure.
"To access the fund, local councils must outline how many new houses will be built, where they will be built and when they will be available. Ideally, they will have agreements with developers on these issues."
Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby welcomed the announcement, saying it was a positive step.
"We don't have much detail yet, but any extra investment into growth infrastructure will be of assistance to get more housing done in a quicker timeframe.
"Once we understand the details, we will assess our situation and see if it's viable to apply for that fund. A lot of that will depend on whether it ends up on our balance sheet or anyone else's. We don't want any other debt that's growth related."
Tauranga property developer Paul Adams, of Carrus Group, said the Government was to be applauded for its foresight in providing the fund, which he hoped Tauranga City Council would take advantage of immediately to "pick up the shortfall of residential-zoned land in our region right now".
"I welcome the streamlining of the powers to bring forward planning of urban areas and unblock the pipelines and constraints presently created by the city council using their debt limits as reason not to bring forward the necessary residential land supply to meet demand."
Golden Sands sales and marketing manager Mark Day said the announcement was a huge plus for New Zealand.
Further development of land at Papamoa was reliant on the building of the Papamoa interchange from the Tauranga Eastern Link and putting water in.
"We've done almost as much as we can in our block. That interchange is the major piece of infrastructure that needs to occur."
Tauranga-based New Zealand First MP Clayton Mitchell said the announcement showed the Government recognised a housing crisis was a reality that was getting worse, not better.
Mr Mitchell said it was "too little too late" and the Government needed to get to the source of the problem.
"A huge amount of the demand for property is a lack of supply driven by immigration numbers being at a record high.
Our problem is a direct result of the immigration problem happening around the country.
"We're not anti-immigration, we know we need the right people coming in, but the amount of people coming in without skills are putting massive strain on resources and infrastructure."
Petition calls for action on emergency housing
The local Labour group's growing concerns about Tauranga's housing crisis have prompted a petition asking for emergency housing to be established in the city.
Neville Lowry, chairman of the Tauranga Labour Electorate Committee, said the petition asked Tauranga City Council to take urgent action by establishing emergency housing for families.
The petition, which was taken to events attended by Labour members, gained 290 signatures and will be presented to deputy mayor Kelvin Clout at 10am today.
Mr Lowry said it was obvious a lot of people were homeless in Tauranga.
"We use the word 'housing' in the petition in the broadest sense, it could just be shelter.
Something better than sleeping in cars and under bushes."