Intensification of existing Tauranga neighbourhoods is back on the council's agenda.

"It's about reshaping communities," Tauranga City Council urban strategy manager Michael Tucker told councillors at one of the council's first open workshops on the subject last week. "It's not just about the numbers."

In developing a new Urban Strategy and preparing for upcoming 2018-28 Long-Term Plan discussions, council staff have been investigating how to get more housing into established suburbs, especially those close to the CBD.

This may lead to changes to the City Plan, which governs how development can happen in the city.


The prospect of changing housing density in existing Tauranga neighbourhoods has been controversial in the past.

In 2008 there was a public outcry when the council mooted intensifying areas of Greerton and Arataki. The council scaled back its plans dramatically.

So what will be different this time around?

Better, clearer communication with the community would be a big one, Mr Tucker said.

"We need to go out with our ducks in a row and we need to be really open and involve the community."

He reckoned the council did some pretty good work a decade ago. Some of that work advanced and some did not. Lessons were learned.

"Tauranga is a very different city to what it was. Our biggest issue is growth and we can't stop that."

People needed more housing choice, he said. People wanting smaller homes were not well catered for.

He said the council needed to reinvest in communities as intensification happened.

"Some people are losing their backyard, so we can compensate for that by improving local amenities - playgrounds and parks."

The 2016 position paper to the council from the Smartgrowth property developer's forum expressed developers' frustration at the council's slow progress towards making intensification more achievable.

"The question at hand is not 'whether to intensify?', but 'how to lead intensification?'

"Council will need to accept there will be changes in residential character in some locations if wider Compact City goals are to be achieved, and this can be a positive outcome.

"Opportunities for better intensification outcomes are likely to be forgone with delayed progress."

Forum member Craig Batchelor said many of the concerns in the paper still held true.

"The current policy framework is not enabling intensification. There is uncertainty. If you want to have investment in intensification, you need to provide certainty for the people who are putting up the capital."

A developer attempting to build, for example, terraced housing across a couple of residential lots in an established neighbourhood might face $100,000+ in costs before seeking consent.

The issue had been around a long time and people were frustrated, he said.

"It's good that priority is being given to it."

Change in your neighbourhood

More homes and more people - over time

The council looked at a model developed in Australia that showed a block of 20 dwellings increasing by 12 over 30 years - averaging out to about two new places to live every five years.

A wider variety of home types

A pair of neighbouring lots might have standalone houses replaced with terraced housing, another with apartments. Someone else might extend their home. A granny flat added to another backyard.

Better public transport, more amenities, revamped streets
To make up for lost backyards and make the most of being close to town, the council could allow for more parks and playgrounds, and create better bus, walking and cycling networks.

Views on the street

Tauranga's population is growing and the council is talking about how to get more people living in central or city suburbs. That might mean changing existing neighbourhoods to add more places for people to live.

We asked people how they would feel about those sorts of changes happening in their neighbourhood.

Freda Thomson
"I think there's got to be a change. I have already done my bit - moved out of my big house into a retirement village. I honestly think there has to be a change: maybe multi-storey but they'd have to be nice. They can be nice."

Frances Agar
"Have we got the infrastructure? It's bad enough with the traffic now. I'm for apartments - you don't have to worry about mowing lawns."

Les and Irene Hallan
"It doesn't bother us. We're not opposed to more population. I don't think the sections are big enough in Bethlehem for high-rises. But if they blended in with the community or the suburb they should be fine."

Richard and Eilene DeGraaf
"It doesn't worry me. The lock up and leave [aspect of apartments] appeals to me. As long as they are not too tall - no more than three stories high. Anything above that and it becomes intimidating and changes the airflow."

Pat Drabble
"I've been here 40 years and there has been a big change. I would like to see it [Greerton] stay as it is because it has a nice friendly little atmosphere. Adding more houses might mean it changes and becomes more commercial."

Frances Dunham
"I think it's good. Leave the rural land for rural people. We need to have more infill housing and more multi-storey... so long as we keep parks and green spaces."