A new car sales showroom, a superette fit-out in Golden Sands and Claymark's $11 million expansion project has helped to drive up building consents issued in the Western Bay.

Tauranga and the Western Bay of Plenty issued $528m of building consents so far this year. That's almost $12m, or 2 per cent, more than the same five-month period last year.

Annie Hill from Priority One said Tauranga was "holding steady", issuing 236 consents valued at $67.3m last month, compared with 252 worth $113m in May last year.

This includes the highest number and value of consents issued for new residential dwellings since September 2018, with 97 consents valued at $42m, she said.

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May saw a "slowdown" in commercial consents in Tauranga ($17.8m) compared with $69m in March this year, and $49m in May 2018.

The six large commercial consents issued last month include a $1.4m new car sales showroom in Hewletts Rd and a $1.5m fit-out of a superette in Golden Sands Drive.

Hill said Tauranga consents had "slowed a little" and were 3 per cent behind last year but Western Bay was 22 per cent ahead by value.

Building consents can fluctuate considerably month to month and significant changes can be more of a "quirk of the processing time" than a new trend, she said.

Tauranga Master Builders Association president Tony Grey said the latest consents data which showed a slight slowdown was not a sign things were
Tauranga Master Builders Association president Tony Grey said the latest consents data which showed a slight slowdown was not a sign things were "starting to turn" bad. Photo / George Novak

Western Bay district had a "very strong" month in May, issuing a $37m of consents, the second highest value in the past two years.

Western Bay also set a new two-year record for new residential builds at $21m, and the $12m of commercial consents was the second highest over the same timeframe.

A key contributor to the Western Bay's commercial consents last month was the $11m expansion plans for Claymark's log-processing facility south of Katikati.

Claymark general manager Tony Strange said the expansion project had been put on hold for this year but he expected it would go ahead next year.

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"At this stage, I prefer not to make further comment," he said.

Tauranga mayor Greg Brownless said he was not concerned about the slight drop in consents in the city because that tended to happen at this time of year then pick up again quickly.

"I would much rather we have steady managed growth than a boom and bust situation because we need to ensure we have the manpower and resources to drive these projects."

Western Bay mayor Garry Webber said he was pleased to see the growth of consents in his district, particularly within the kiwifruit industry.

"We are starting to see organisations looking to add accommodation facilities on to their packhouses and expanding their operations such as the EastPack cool store in Te Puke.

"We hope this will be the start of a 10-year programme as kiwifruit industry businesses recover from Psa and look to the future in terms of their expansion plans."

Tauranga Master Builders Association president Todd Grey said building consents were "not just a numbers game" but the value those consents added to the local economy.

"A lot more consents today involve big architectural high-value builds which take 18 months to two years and needs more manpower and subcontractors and creates jobs."

Grey said a lot of different factors came into play in terms of lodging consents, for example, the time of year, and access to available land coming on stream for new builds.

The time it takes for applications to go through council processes was another factor which can "skew " the picture of what is happening in the construction industry, he said.

Grey said a slight slowdown in Tauranga's consents was "not a sign things were starting to turn".

"There is still plenty of work keeping us very busy and still a huge demand for extra manpower from carpenters to architects, and engineers to subcontractors."