City leaders will decide today whether to move forward with major changes to city planning rules - including allowing apartment buildings up to six storeys high in parts of the central city.
The proposal has been applauded by developers keen to pursue higher density housing, but not everyone is convinced, with some residents objecting to intensification, fearing "dog kennel duplexes" and impacts on parking and sunshine hours.
At a Tauranga City Council meeting today
, elected members will decide whether to adopt three changes to the Tauranga City Plan for public notification.
The City Plan covers all subdivision, use and development, and how and where the city grows. It is the blueprint by which any development in Tauranga is managed.
One of the proposed alterations is Plan Change 26, which the council has dubbed "Housing Choice", saying it aims to "enable greater housing choice and residential density in existing urban areas".
It is linked to the Te Papa Spatial Plan which would also be up for adoption at today's
The plan change would apply to just under three-quarters of the residential areas of the city, covering just fewer than 33,000 properties.
It would make it easier to build duplexes, terraced housing and townhouses in suburban residential zoned areas of the city.
At present, you can build one standalone house per 325 square metres, or a house plus minor dwelling on 500sq m.
This would change to allow a one duplex (two independent units) per 400sq m, or three or more attached units in a comprehensively designed development.
The maximum height would stay the same as applied to house builds now - 9 metres - but the minimum outdoor space would change from 50sq m to 30sq m, with new rules to ensure it was usable.
The change would allow even more intensification along the Te Papa peninsula, which runs from Greerton through Gate Pa to the CBD and harbour bridge.
New maximum heights of four or six storeys would apply for apartments including in some areas where two storeys (9m) is the norm. The higher limits would be around central areas with good public transport links, such as near Tauranga Hospital.
There are exceptions, including properties in viewshafts that are protected to maintain views of Mauao from marae around the city. The council said topography, natural hazards and historical sites were also considered when deciding where to allow six storeys.
Other new rules included a minimum duplex size, changes in the commercial zone with height limits increased to align with surrounding residential activities and the introduction of amenity and urban design provisions for residential areas.
As per new government rules, minimum car-parking requirements will be removed from the city plan.
The Te Papa Spatial Plan runs alongside this work and describes how the council would, over the next 30 years, invest hundreds of millions in making the intensified Te Papa area a nice place to live with things like green space and good transport options and connections.
If the council votes to notify the changes, formal consultation will take place in November and December.
The council has consulted in the development of the plans, with the most recent round earlier this year drawing 950 responses. There were mixed reactions but the council said there was general support for the direction.
One resident said: "We can't follow Auckland's poor precedent and keep building roads and new infrastructure. The quarter-acre section is a thing of the past, building up and increasing access to waterfront and public reserves for communal use [is] the way forward."
Another said: "Oh, please no more duplex dog kennels. They are shocking. Section sizes here are far too small anyway. How can you expect people to live in them, let alone have a family in them?" Another said the council needed to "be realistic" with intensification. "You have to be realistic, sure if this was Russia that would be fine."
Developers, however, are keen.
TYBI director Shannon Moyle has built higher intensity housing in Tauranga, including the Lattitude Apartments, but said it was "quite an arduous process".
Moyle said the need to adhere to the Resource Management Act (RMA) and current city plan made it difficult and he looked forward to what the council has proposed.
"People's thoughts are that it's just about developing intensification but it's what has to go around that to support that whole thing. It's more than just more houses. It's parks, public transport, processes for people to get out and about," Moyle said.
Classic Groups' Peter Cooney "absolutely" supported the proposed changes, saying Tauranga had the need to "go up and intensify".
"The reason we haven't really done it to date is the [city] plan rules have been archaic and don't allow for it.
"This is long due for Tauranga. The city needs to be able to intensify, especially in greater amenity areas like the CBD or near the hospital."
Veros Property Services managing director Morgan Jones said the plan changes would help speed up construction of townhouses and other higher density dwellings that offered more options in the city.
"This is really great and necessary because at the moment we are running out of green field land and growth options. There's been lots of talk saying we need to go up, we need to go in. We just need these plan changes to support that now."
The proposed changes are the culmination of years and planning, modelling and consultation, evidenced in more than 1000 pages of reports attached to the agenda for today's meeting.
The moves also follow instructions from central government for councils - especially in fast-growing places such as Tauranga, which is estimated to need 43,000 new homes in 30 years - to enable building up as well as out.
Accessible Properties housing development manager Nigel Smith said the changes would enable high density, lower-cost housing options and growth in social and affordable housing was "critical".
Smith said the council's changes would help enable much-needed projects such as the regeneration and intensification of the Gate Pā Pukehinahina area "where Accessible Properties is keen to partner with Tauranga City Council, central government and others to provide good quality, mixed housing options", Smith said.
In a report to be presented at today's
meeting, council senior policy planner Corinne Frischknecht warned if the council chose not to adopt the plan changes, it would not deliver on housing development targets, nor line up with higher-level planning documents such as the National Policy Statement for Urban Development.
- Additional reporting Samantha Motion