Western Bay's housing and infrastructure needs are "critical" according to a submission highlighting the need to cater for rapid growth.
The district council submitted a report to the New Zealand Infrastructure Commission's He Tūāpapa ki te Ora - infrastructure for a better future Consultation document, which aims to develop a 30-year infrastructure strategy for Aotearoa New Zealand.
Western Bay deputy mayor John Scrimgeour told the Bay of Plenty Times yesterday the submission was important "because we're a growing region".
"We need housing…but particularly we need workers and staff in our industries.
"So it's important we have increased availability of housing to cater for those people."
Beyond houses, Scrimgeour said transport, water and amenities for people to enjoy in their spare time were important.
Scrimgeour said the two biggest infrastructure needs in the district were roading issues to Ōmokoroa and the development of the Rangiuru business park. He pointed to the "employment and business opportunities" that would come with it.
Director of the Te Puke Economic Development Group Mark Boyle said yesterday there was a "critical need" to meet the demand of growth from the kiwifruit industry.
"The infrastructure needs are to enable more housing to the east of Te Puke," he said.
"New plantings are creating about 500 new jobs per year and so there will be increased demand for housing for people living and working in the area, particularly in the kiwifruit industry."
Boyle said Te Puke had "really good social infrastructure" but more was needed because of continued population and economic growth.
"The economic growth is quite profound," he said.
New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc chief executive Colin Bond said long-term, the business advocated for housing development to support their expanding industry.
"Accommodation is particularly important in the Bay of Plenty where over 80 per cent of kiwifruit are produced," he said.
In particular, NZKGI advocated for housing development in the eastern areas (Pongakawa) and supported accommodation requirements from the development of the Rangiuru Business Park, he said.
Important infrastructure needs for the kiwifruit industry were roading and enabling efficient freight movements to the Port of Tauranga.
Over a year, there were 15,000 truck movements to the port from SH2, he said.
Bond said NZKGI particularly wanted priority to be given to funding stage two of the Takitimu Northern Link.
"The area between Katikati and Tauranga is kiwifruit intensive with 767 orchards and seven post-harvest facilities."
"These operations involve about 350 staff working fulltime in post-harvest facilities and 4208 seasonal staff working in post-facilities and on orchards."
During Tuesday's council meeting, mayor Garry Webber said the "only significant change" to the submission was spatial plans should be completed at sub-regional levels, where appropriate.
"Western Bay has submitted that we don't believe that's ideal because when you look at the Bay of Plenty, we've got three distinct areas – Western bay, Rotorua [and] Taupō, and the east, and they all have different communities."
The submission said building communities required a level of local knowledge, understanding and localised community engagement, which may not sit comfortably with a region-wide process.
Western Bay councillor Don Thwaites told the Bay of Plenty Times after the meeting that he agreed with sub-regional spatial plans, as they would recognise the "special nature [and] features" of the Western Bay of Plenty.
The feedback received on the consultation document would be used to finalise the draft infrastructure strategy, which would be provided to the minister for infrastructure in September.