Commercial building consents in Rotorua are at the highest level since 2010, and the number of land-use consents are also up for the first time in five years as the city sees a number of major building projects about to get under way.
A wide range of developments are set to take place in Rotorua in 2015 - from the new Countdown store on Fairy Springs Rd to a major retail and entertainment complex on Te Ngae Rd, a new world-leading dementia village in Ngongotaha and the Child Health Centre of Excellence, at a site yet to be disclosed.
The news comes as the Rotorua Lakes Council figures show a positive turnaround in consents being issued for new projects.
Last year, the council issued 251 commercial building consents, up from 227 the previous year and the highest number since 2010. Land use consents, which are required for any project that may have an adverse effect on the environment, are also up on the previous year for the first time since 2010.
While there's plenty on next year, deputy mayor Dave Donaldson said it was probably a bit early to get really excited about the figures.
He said the council wanted to see more of a continuing trend before they could feel really confident they had turned the corner from the tough times of the last few years.
"However, our new development-friendly district plan increased certainty - from key council decisions like scrapping development contributions and uplifting the Victoria St arterial designation - when combined with a steady upturn in the national economy, give us reason to feel encouraged about the potential for more developments in Rotorua in the years ahead."
Mr Donaldson said new developments wouldn't necessarily be reflected in future resource consent statistics, as under the new district plan many would be able to proceed without needing to lodge resource consent applications.
"We're certainly heartened by some of the recently announced major development projects for Rotorua - such as the new entertainment complex in Te Ngae Rd, the Corrections Department's new Rotorua headquarters and a new major supermarket in Fairy Springs Rd. These are encouraging signals of increased confidence in the future of Rotorua and all will come with the welcome prospect of more jobs for local people."
He said he was aware of some other proposals which were still under wraps which, if they proceeded, would bring further substantial benefits.
Local developer Ray Cook said it was hard to say what had caused the surge in development, and said it wasn't down to any single factor.
He said many of the projects had been in the pipeline for some time.
"I think obviously the council is being quite proactive in getting things moving and people have got confidence in what's going on."
He said earthquake upgrades had also caused some movement in the central city.
"We've got quite a full book of work in the next 12 months. It's the busiest we've been for quite a while but all the developments that are happening we've been working on for more than 12 months."
Mr Cook said he believed Rotorua had enough labour resources to cope with the demand.
Where possible, he said they would be employing local subcontractors, which helped the economy go "round and round".
"I think Rotorua is going to have a very busy year, there's no doubt."
Harcourts commercial real estate specialist Paul Sanford said he believed Rotorua was going through a very positive time.
He said the market had "really pressurised in Auckland" and investors were looking around outside Auckland.
Better times in hospitality and tourism had also helped boost confidence, he said.
Mr Sanford, who is involved with the Lynmore Junction Development on Te Ngae Rd, said they were seeing "really strong enquiries" in the centre which is expected to include laser strike, a 7D cinema, bowling alley, service station, supermarket and a range of other retail experiences.
The development, on the old Sealed Air site on Te Ngae Rd, is being undertaken by Rotorua's Holmes Group.