Hastings District Council has voted to change its district plan to help growers provide purpose-built and seasonal accommodation for up to 80 pickers on their blocks.
It will also allow more accommodation to be built as a restricted discretionary activity for RSE workers in light industrial and general industrial zones at Omahu and Irongate with a limit of 300 workers.
Resource consents will still be required for any developments.
At a meeting on Thursday councillors ratified the proposed change titled "Variation 7 – Seasonal Workers Accommodation".
The change was publicly notified in August 2019 and 17 submissions were received.
For employers on the Plains Production Zone there will now be provision to allow accommodation for up to 80 seasonal workers.
The increase in accommodation is to help house seasonal workers, the number of which is increasing at a "rapid rate" and placing considerable pressure on accommodation facilities, the meeting agenda said.
When Variation 7 was first proposed in 2018, Regional Seasonal Employers told HDC the current seasonal worker numbers could double by 2022.
The change will also reduce pressure on the rental housing market and give certainty to Regional Seasonal Employers.
Yummy Apples general manager Paul Paynter was pleased with the council's actions and the decision but said it was "unfortunate timing" given the current Covid-19 economic situation.
"It's a good decision and it's good to have the certainty but I'm certainly not looking at building accommodation currently.
"At this stage with rocketing unemployment rates the RSE scheme may be tenuous," he said.
At the council meeting on April 23, Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst acknowledged the hard work of councillors she said had been working on the proposal for at least two years.
She referred to it as a "big piece of work" and said the proposal was a "very good way forward for the horticultural industry".
"We are being watched by other councils to see where we go with this," Hazlehurst said.
"RSE workers are incredibly important and managing accommodation [for them] now and in the future is important."
Councillor Bayden Barber said the plan change was a "balanced approach".
He said it was about "trying to strike the right balance" between having RSE workers and accommodation for them and not jeopardising any further land loss.
"For what it's worth, it's a good balance of policy and rule change to allow that to happen."
A Hearings Committee deliberated on submissions and at a reconvened hearing on March 12, 2020 it decided that the Hearings Committee endorse the recommendations from the Variation 7 Seasonal Workers Accommodation hearing and was forwarded to council for ratification and notification.
Submitters are able to appeal the council's decision to the Environment Court within 30 working days of being served the notice of decision.