The $536.3 million Te Papa peninsula growth plan and a host of rule changes that would enable intensification in that area and beyond have received unanimous backing from Tauranga City Council in what one councillor called a "historic day".
Yesterday the council approved the Te Papa Spatial Plan, a 30-year blueprint for growth along the city spine between the CBD and Greerton - an area expected to become home to an extra 15,000 people by 2050 in the first big intensification push for one of New Zealand's fastest-growing cities.
The plan foreshadows an estimated $536.3m in capital spending over 10 years on infrastructure and facilities to support the rising population, including transport, open spaces and more.
The council also voted to adopt its "housing choice" City Plan change for formal notification.
This would apply to about three-quarters of Tauranga's residential housing, making it cheaper and faster to build duplexes and terraced housing or retrofit big houses into multiple units by easing rules, including consenting.
It also tightens up the rules for housing developments in commercial zones, aiming to make sure they are nice to live in by mandating features such as balconies orientated for sun, and bicycle storage.
The meeting heard this was in part a response to the Owens Place development in Mount Maunganui, which has been criticised for having "low amenity".
The main target of the plan change, however, is Te Papa - an area with greater ethnic diversity and a population that is younger on average than the city as a whole.
The plan change would allow for mid-rise apartment buildings of four or six storeys (12-16m) in addition to duplexes and the like in large swathes of the peninsula.
The highest builds would be allowed in areas with easy access to shops, services and major bus routes - most of Greerton Village, around Tauranga Hospital and on the CBD fringe, for example.
The height allowances are different block-by-block, rather than applying across whole suburbs, due to height-limiting factors such as topography, protected viewshafts, natural hazards and historical features.
The decision will kick off a formal public consultation process, with a submission period in November and December followed by hearings.
Letters will be sent to property owners impacted by the proposed change and council staff will be available to meet with individual owners.
Council planner Janine Speedy said the changes were "not a silver bullet" for addressing the city's fast-growing population and housing requirements, and change would be slow at first, picking up over time.
"It's not going to happen overnight, this is a long-term plan for the city."
This was in part because developers would need to purchase neighbouring properties and amalgamate them to do big builds.
Even so, about 80 per cent of the intensification was still expected to be standalone dwellings.
Councillor John Robson said the council needed to work with developers and "allow them to do what they do", but also urged central government to step in to "catalyse and inspire developers to take advantage of the opportunities this is creating".
Councillor Heidi Hughes - who said it was a "historic day" - said there were also opportunities for "mums and pops [to] look at investing in not only trading housing but in creating housing for our community".
Council manager of city and infrastructure planning Andrew Mead said the next areas of the city the council would look at would be Otumoetai, the western suburbs and the coastal strip including Mount Maunganui.
Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford told the Bay of Plenty Times it was great to see the council enabling housing and different housing types to address Tauranga's housing shortage.
"This plan offers the local community thoughtful urban planning with well-designed green spaces, community areas and utility infrastructure."
The council also passed two other City Plan changes, one aimed at reducing the risk of flooding from intense rainfall and another clarifying technical rules for earthworks, which the council started looking as a result of issues in the failed Bella Vista development.
Te Papa peninsula population estimates
% of Tauranga population living in Te Papa
2018: 14 per cent
2050: 17.3 per cent
Source: Tauranga City Council