Tauranga City Council has backed the controversial plan to rezone 13.2 hectares of sports fields at Papamoa east to provide more land for housing.

It was part of Plan Change 25 for the Wairakei urban growth area following recommendations from an independent hearings commissioner.

The decision to allow Plan Change 25 means the council can proceed with its decision to create a new Special Housing Area in Wairakei.

Changes include rezoning Papamoa East Employment land to residential, excluding land around the future Papamoa East Interchange and Wairakei town centre - and relocating and resizing the neighbourhood centre zones.


They also include providing for medium rise plan areas in the Wairakei residential zone, allowing development in distinct locations up to 17.5m high.

Rezoning land previously zoned active open space to residential; and removing the need for a Comprehensive Development Consent in the Wairakei Residential Zone to provide a simpler planning framework, has also been proposed.

Council said in statement changes to the city plan zoning would ensure development in Wairakei could achieve good urban design outcomes and provide for a range of housing typologies.

"They reflect in the city plan the Special Housing Areas established in Wairakei over the past three years.

"They also reflect the previous decision made by council to remove the previous active open space zoning on land no longer required for that purpose."

The aim of Plan Change 25 was to provide a simpler, less costly consent framework within the Wairakei Residential Zone, similar to other residential zones within the city.

A total of 54 submissions were received from the community to Plan Change 25 which was notified in October 2016.

The summary of submissions was notified in January 2017, with 20 further submissions received. Hearings were conducted by the independent hearings commissioner in May.

Submitters on Plan Change 25 have been publicly notified and can submit an appeal in the next 30 days.

In June 2017, the council agreed to recommend to the Building and Construction Minister the establishment of a new Special Housing Area in Wairakei.

This area is the piece of land previously zoned active open space under consideration through the plan change process.

The council's agreement to establish this SHA was conditional on the independent hearings commissioner's own recommendation on this particular aspect of Plan Change 25.

The independent hearings commissioner's recommendation is to rezone that area to residential, reflecting council's previous decision and the removal of the designation for an active reserve back in 2011.

This means that council's recommendation to the Minister to establish the SHA is now confirmed.

Consenting for residential development will be able proceed on that piece of land if the Minister approves the SHA at his end. This decision will not be altered by the appeals process in progress for Plan Change 25.

"Wairakei is a major growth area for Tauranga. Plan Change 25 will assist in managing development capacity to accommodate our city's growth," the council said.

The provision of a good supply and variety of housing to meet demand over time is a key part of council's overall city growth objectives.