Residential consent numbers in Rotorua are already up 64 per cent on last year.
However, there are fears delays caused by the lockdown could further fuel the housing crisis. Builders, desperate to get back to work, say the industry is already facing labour shortage and supply chain cost issues that could drive up house prices.
Lakes District Council says it was ''working from all angles'' on a long-term solution and housing was a key "plank" of the proposed 2021-31 Long Term Plan.
Figures show for the calendar year the council had already issued 280 residential consents this year compared to 157 in 2019 and 170 in 2020.
Rotorua Chamber of Commerce chief executive Bryce Heard said the housing shortage was particularly serious in Rotorua.
''Some good gains have been made year-on-year with consents for new houses. However, we need to be building at well over twice the 2020 rate to catch up the forecast shortage by the end of this decade.''
Any delay would have long-term effects, not just on housing prices, but homelessness and the economy in general, he said.
''It will require a tripartite approach if we are to meet the housing requirements in Rotorua. Council must get the planning right and do speedy consenting, government must participate with new rental houses. The town must put nimbyism aside and support the new house programme.
''Buying motels to use for emergency or temporary housing was not the answer. New houses are needed.''
The upside of getting it right would be a good economic kicker for the local economy and alleviation of the issues associated with having high levels of homeless people in the city, he said.
Rotorua Lakes Council district development deputy chief executive Jean-Paul Gaston said more houses, of all types, was the long-term solution to the housing crisis.
''Council is working from all angles to make that happen. There is a significant amount of work underway to identify opportunities, leverage work already happening and to establish partnerships so that council is able to provide the right support where it's needed.''
Gaston said the council would not be able to solve the crisis on its own, and was working closely with the Government, Te Arawa and with potential developers to enable more residential growth in Rotorua.
Classic Group director Peter Cooney said every delay like the lockdown created issues.
''We have just to hope we get back to level 3 quickly that will allow construction to get back into it.''
The industry was plagued with other problems including the supply chain and labour shortages that would ultimately drive up house prices.
Cooney said due to its size and scale the company had enough skilled staff but he was aware of ''head hunting'' and was concerned for the future.
''You can't go from building 30,000 houses to 40,000 without there being some major, major issues within the industry. You can't increase it that much and expect to have the resources when the borders are closed.''
House prices would continue to go up as wages and other costs increased, he said.
Classic Group estimated in the current year it would have built 300 homes in the Bay of Plenty and 850 nationally.
Barrett Homes national sales and marketing manager Lianne Simpkin agreed the lockdown would cause delays.
''Keeping the customer informed during this time is key and generally, they are well-versed regarding the reasons for any delays and are content to work with us for best outcomes. With any delays, Barrett Home does have to absorb some costs.''
Classic Builders Lakes District owner Paul Taylor acknowledged the current lockdown and delays on building but he felt positive about the future.
The company employed more than 100 local tradespeople and contractors on the Lynmore Rise Retirement Village development in Rotorua.
The $30 million venture between Owhatiura South Five Incorporated and Classic Builders is on Te Ngae Rd - and Taylor said everyone was looking forward to getting back to work.
He said fortunately the company had not been affected by the labour shortage and it would be business as usual when the alert level changed.
To date 23 villas had been sold at Lynmore Rise with another 41 in the pipeline and demand had superseded expectations.