Tauranga has more than double the per capita amount of vacant commercial land out of five leading New Zealand cities analysed in a new survey from Auckland-based Urban Economics.
Tauranga also has a solid supply of vacant industrial land, ranking second after Hamilton on a per capita basis.
"That's a very strong supply," said Urban Economics director Adam Thompson.
"And what that does is keep the prices under control."
Mr Thompson said the survey - of Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington and Christchurch - looked at vacant land availability using the most recent Google Earth aerial photos and street views, checked against zoning.
Vacant land was defined as any that had no visible building or development, and did not take into account resource consents.
According to the survey, Tauranga has 5.6sq m per capita of vacant commercial land, a total of 70ha. By contrast, on a per capita basis, the other cities had only 1 to 2sq m per capita.
And while Tauranga had a relatively large amount of vacant commercial land compared with other cities on a per capita basis, Auckland was expected to have a severe shortage, with demand exceeding supply by about 340ha based on historic uptake rates.
For vacant industrial land, Tauranga had an estimated 27.6sq m per capita, with approximately 340ha - behind Hamilton with 36.4sq m, but ahead of Wellington and Christchurch. Auckland had only 3.8sq m per capita, or about one-tenth the per capita quantity in Hamilton and Tauranga.
Auckland was expected to have a small shortage of industrial land over the next decade.
By contrast, all cities except Auckland were expected to have surpluses of industrial land over the next decade, based on historic land uptake rates, said Mr Thompson.
Tauranga's position was attributable to the work council had done over the years to rezone land and provide infrastructure, he said.
Priority One interim chief executive Greg Simmonds attributed the large vacant land supply position to the region's long-term planning through Smart Growth.
"We have done quite a bit of planning through Smart Growth for commercial and industrial land to make sure we have got appropriate quantity available and that's what's showing up in this survey," he said.
"The planned approach recognised there was going to be a need, and now we're seeing the benefits of that in the options available for business growth and relocations."
Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless agreed, noting that planning for current land availability went back many years.
"It's not perfect, but at least we're in a reasonable position at the moment," he said.
"We've certainly been laying the groundwork. We are definitely thinking ahead. Having a reasonable supply of land goes a long way toward managing the affordability of it all."
Long-term planning reaps rewards
Bryce Donne, director of Element IMF, which is developing the Tauriko Business Estate, also credited long-term planning for the relatively healthy vacant land supply situation.
"The reason why Tauranga is well-served is a function of Smart Growth, where they set out a number of years ago to provide enough land till 2050 and rezoned a number of areas," he said.
"There is an abundance of zoned industrial land. But there probably isn't an abundance of zoned and serviced land, because there has been a very significant uplift in land demand since Christmas."
Much of the demand Tauriko was seeing was coming from local businesses that needed bigger premises and were growing, he said.
In response, he said Element IMF had opened up two further stages of Tauriko. The developer was aiming to be three years ahead of demand, with at least earthworks in place.
"If you'd asked me [last] Christmas, I'd have said we had three years available. Now, I'd say we'll have three years supply again by the end of 2018."
Tauriko Business Estate
- Businesses moving into the business estate park are approximately 75 per cent local and 25 per cent from outside the region.
- Element IMF director Bryce Donne.