Tauranga developers say they are having to wait years for land to be unlocked due to unclear government policies - preventing thousands of desperately needed homes from being built.
The situation was not unique to the city and a developer claims the delays are costing the sector "hundreds of millions of dollars''.
Developers spoken to by NZME say the Resource Management Act process and the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPS-FW) were to blame as no one appeared to be able to understand them.
And the Tauranga City Council said it ''generally agreed'' with the developers and housing intensification was delayed by more than 12 months due to the policies and lack of government investment into transport networks.
Classic Group director Peter Cooney said its quest to deliver more affordable homes at Tauriko West had been hampered by six years of delays.
''How can any region deliver affordability if we are constrained by this kind of delay?''
In Cooney's view, the new home market in Tauranga was in trouble.
''We have failed to unlock new land to cater to the city's projected growth requirements, and the complexity around working through the RMA process and new government policies is the cause.
''We are seeing councils all over the country bogged down by process and the volume of work coming in. Interpretation of the RMA and the introduction of new government policies is having a major impact on the consenting process – it is getting harder, not easier.''
The NPS was causing major headaches and delays, he said.
''Councils are trying to reach a practical solution in respect to interpreting what is being proposed. There needs to be a fundamentally practical approach to these policies as it seems whoever is drafting them has limited knowledge of the development industry.
''In principle, we agree with these policies but they need to be able to translate practically and work with commercial sense.''
Carrus managing director and Urban Taskforce for Tauranga chairman Scott Adams said the NPS-FW was too broad.
In his opinion, it was done through an environment-only lens, which left no pathway for urban development in future growth areas that were in the process of being rezoned.
He commended the Tauranga City Council for seeking an exemption from the freshwater policy but he said there could still be further roadblocks for Tauriko West and Te Tumu.
Tauriko West was expected to provide up to 4000 homes while Te Tumu was expected to provide new housing for about 15,500 people.
Carrus was one of the Te Tumu landowners who, in his view, had been promised by Smartgrowth that "bulldozers would be on site in 2011".
He said nobody in the New Zealand development community would ever deny that protecting the environment should be the priority but this should not be at the total expense of things that helped grow the economy.
Bluehaven chief executive Nathan York said new national policies were becoming increasingly unclear.
They were unclear about the national policy statements around freshwater, urban development and medium-density housing and how they could applied efficiently.
''It is a bit of a tightrope for us trying to get that clarity, especially as local councils also have to understand and adapt their own city plans.''
In Tauranga, there were currently three new growth areas being planned for including Te Tumu, Tauriko and Te Papa, which were all going to take a long time to unlock.
In his view, intensifying existing city brownfields (development on land that has already been developed) areas was needed.
''However, we need to be realistic and acknowledge it is going to be more costly, more timely, and will impact on existing communities so inevitably it will be a lot harder to execute.
''And what happens when it gets too hard? Not much. So we have got this ideology that we are going to build all these new houses, in a reasonably short to medium time-frame, in these dedicated areas - it's just not going to happen.''
Tauranga City Council city planning and growth manager Andrew Mead said the Government had been actively developing and implementing new policies that affected urban growth and development in recent years.
Some of those policies had created unintended outcomes or conflicting outcomes with other national directions, for example, the freshwater reforms.
This could affect the ability to deliver the Tauriko West and Te Tumu priority development areas while meeting NPS-UD requirements.
Other policy changes like the recent RMA housing amendments had delayed the Tauranga City Council in enabling housing intensification in the city by over 12 months.
''As such, we generally agree with the developer views that have been expressed.''
The council had also consulted with the Ministry for the Environment on revised freshwater reforms that include urban development and Tauranga-specific provisions.
''These would significantly assist in resolving issues in this space around wetland management, but, as per our submission, they do not resolve all of the issues in this space or create sufficient certainty that development will be able to proceed.''
Rotorua Lakes Council district development deputy chief executive Jean-Paul Gaston said it recognised that developing land was becoming more complex due to a variety of reasons, including different forms of Government regulatory requirements, climate change and land constraints.
''The NPS-FM does change how we as communities treat our freshwater resource and we all need to adapt.
''As a council, we are doing all we can to try to facilitate and encourage housing development to address our critical shortage and to get more housing as quickly and efficiently as possible, while also adapting to and accommodating reforms as they take effect.''
Minister of Environment David Parker said environment officials were analysing feedback for possible amendments to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management and the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater.
They would provide advice to him in due course. No decisions had been made on Tauranga's submission.
''There is strong public support for the aims of the Essential Freshwater package, which are to stop further degradation of freshwater; to make improvements within five years and to reverse past damage to bring our waterways and ecosystems to a healthy state within a generation - and that has not changed.''
Last year the Government, with the support of National, the Greens, and the Māori Party, passed the RM Enabling Housing Act.
This act enables medium density housing in cities across New Zealand including Tauranga.
The cost-benefit report for this act found that between 3800 and 8500 homes would be enabled in Tauranga without the need for a resource consent, Parker said.
On Monday the Tauranga City Council Strategy, Finance and Risk Committee will report on submissions it lodged to the Government's draft National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management and National Environmental Standard on Freshwater.