It could soon become quicker and easier to build a home in Rotorua - with a new plan revealed to address the city's house shortage.
Rotorua MP Todd McClay yesterday announced a proposal for a Special Housing Accord to help meet Rotorua's growing demand for housing, in a move welcomed by Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick.
"We need to build more homes, more quickly," Mr McClay said.
"Local builders say they are receiving tens of calls each week from people wanting to build.
"However, a lack of sections means they are having to turn people away and suggest Taupo, Tauranga or Whakatane instead."
Last year 121 new homes were consented in Rotorua, compared with 280 in Taupo, 589 in Western Bay of Plenty and 1695 in Tauranga.
"A Special Housing Accord would be a partnership between Rotorua Lakes Council and the Government. It would focus on streamlining consenting procedures, allowing more homes to be built more quickly," Mr McClay said.
Housing Accords are agreed between the Government and councils to free up land supply through Special Housing Areas.
Special Housing Areas cut down on red-tape and speed up the consenting process by enabling proactive council pre-application process, limited notification and appeals.
There are 10 councils with Special Housing Accords, including Tauranga and the Western Bay of Plenty.
"Local developers and the council face frustrations around consents for larger-scale residential developments. A Special Housing Accord will help address this in a more timely fashion," Mr McClay said.
"Rotorua Lakes Council estimates our population has hit 70,000 for the first time and last year we experienced the highest annual growth rate for 10 years.
"People are moving to Rotorua faster than homes are being built, which is creating pressure in the rental market."
He said while strong economic growth was good news for the district, the shortage of available sections had to be addressed.
"It also means more local people will get into first homes, more young people will get apprenticeships and pressure on the rental market will ease."
Mrs Chadwick said she looked forward to discussions with Mr McClay and relevant ministers about how an accord might work.
"While we welcome growth it also presents challenges for us, putting pressure on our housing stock, our infrastructure and our environment, and we need to find ways to address those challenges."
Mrs Chadwick said she had previously spoken with Mr McClay and Minister Steven Joyce about the need for more housing in Rotorua and the need to explore ways to unlock land and encourage residential development.
"I'm heartened we have had a response to our requests for assistance," she said.
Bill Clement, chairman of the Rotorua Registered Master Builders Association, said this was a "definite step in the right direction".
"I think everybody deserves a chance at becoming a home owner," he said.
"Hopefully there will be the opportunity for first-home buyers to get their foot in the door."
Mr Clement said there were enough builders across the region to keep up with the growing demand.
"It will depend how it's all managed and processed."
Yesterday's announcement was made at Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology. However Toi Ohomai did not wish to comment on the proposal.