More than 120 consents were issued for new dwellings last year, but an average of 567 need to be consented each year to keep up with predicted growth.

Rotorua Lakes Council issued 126 consents for new houses, apartments, and units in 2018, up from 123 in 2017.

However, the Spatial Plan adopted in August predicts a need for up to 17,000 homes for up to 30,000 new Rotorua residents over the next 30 years. This means an average of 567 homes would need to be consented annually to manage the growth.

The council's economic development portfolio lead and deputy mayor Dave Donaldson told the Rotorua Daily Post "it's too simplistic to say we need a certain number of consents per year to cater for a certain amount of growth".

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"Opportunities will come as developers decide the time is right."

Donaldson said the council's Long-term Plan would provide the impetus for new housing through infrastructure investments, and improvement of facilities such as Kuirau Park, the Lakefront, Whakarewarewa Forest, the aquatic centre, and Rotorua Museum.

"In my view, the signals are pretty clear and some developers are already seizing the initiative to green-light commercial and residential projects."

Rotorua Lakes Council statistics show the total value of the building work consented for new dwellings in 2018 was $46.8 million, an average of just over $371,000 per consent.

Registered Master Builders Rotorua president Bill Clement said troubles with the leaky homes and earthquake damage in the past decade in New Zealand meant central Government and insurance companies were putting more pressure on councils "to be more pedantic in the building consent process".

Bill Clement is the Rotorua president of the Registered Master Builders' Association. Photo / file
Bill Clement is the Rotorua president of the Registered Master Builders' Association. Photo / file

"The bureaucratic process needs streamlining so we can get down to business."

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He said there was also a high demand for building jobs.

"There is not a lot of people out there to meet it, but everybody is doing their best."

Riverwood Building and Construction was established in Rotorua last year and worked on three new dwellings.

"This year we will be expecting to add a couple more to that," director Dan Dufty said.

"Housing New Zealand has been doing a few new builds in Rotorua and is hopefully planning on more this year.

"With some new land opening up in the Rotorua district I would expect there to be a spike in new dwelling consents in the next few years."

Dan Dufty, left, and Mike Phillips from Riverwood Building and Construction, at the site of a new build near Tikitere Gardens. Photo / Stephen Parker
Dan Dufty, left, and Mike Phillips from Riverwood Building and Construction, at the site of a new build near Tikitere Gardens. Photo / Stephen Parker

AB Builders normally does one new build a year, alongside addition and alteration jobs.

But managing director Aaron Brown said he expected things to keep getting better this year as there were sections opening up in Hamurana and Pukehangi Rd.

The council's spatial plan states that increased traffic congestion and housing affordability in cities like Auckland have made Rotorua "an increasingly desirable place to live".

It also says population increases have already put pressure on Rotorua's housing market because "there are not enough new homes being built for the number of additional people living in the district".

"Although we have a large amount of land available for homes, this land is not being developed for various reasons, such as a lack of infrastructure available or because land is in multiple ownership which can complicate decision making.

"Also, some areas that could be developed to include multiple units remain as single homes."

The plan highlights that "Rotorua's central city, or CBD, is too big, needs to be reduced to create vibrancy and residential areas".

More than 1000 residents were engaged in the formation of the spatial plan, across 56 workshops.

If the upward trend in new consented homes in Rotorua continues, next year the council will be close to doubling the number of dwellings consented in the years 2014 and 2015.

The council's latest performance indicators show it processes about 66 per cent of building consents within 15 working days.

Areas for future residential growth outlined in Spatial Plan
- Iwi have aspirations for papakāinga near Lake Tarawera, Rotoiti and
Rotomā.
- CBD accommodation along Fenton St can be transitioned into areas for homes in the longer term, with tourist accommodation moving to the CBD.
- Some support from rural landowners for more homes at Hamurana.
- General support from Ngongotahā community for additional homes around the village but also a clear separation from city to keep the village feel.
- Support in the east side of Lake Rotorua, for more homes between Vaughan Rd and the lake.