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Apartments Won’t Create Affordable Homes In Tauranga – Developer

A Tauranga developer is concerned that proposed planning rules to increase building heights in Mount Maunganui won’t create affordable homes.

Tauranga City Council is proposing to raise the allowable building heights in Mount Maunganui North as part of Plan Change 33.

Heights of six storeys were proposed in the shopping area and within 400 metres of it, then four storeys between 400-800m of the shops.

A decision on the plan change will be made at May 20 Monday’s council meeting. 

The plan change is in response to the Government’s medium-density residential standards (MDRS) that allows for greater intensification in urban areas.

Classic Group director Peter Cooney said the primary role of the MDRS was to create more availability for housing and more affordability.

“You will not create affordability, especially in Mount North, just because the cost of the land so expensive and to go vertical is extremely expensive.”

The proposed heights would create holiday homes or properties for people that could afford homes that cost over $1m.

He said construction costs in New Zealand were “out of kilter” with the rest of the word so building vertically was challenging.

"As soon as you go above three levels, the construction changes and it's horrendously expensive."

A lot of developers wouldn't take that risk especially in the current economic climate, he said.

"You'll see very little apartment building going on in the Bay of Plenty for the next five to seven years."

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An independent hearing panel released its recommendations on the plan change recently after hearings were held in July and October 2023.

For Mount Maunganui north it recommended keeping the building height restrictions as they were currently.

But the MDRS would still apply to some areas of the suburb that enabled buildings up to three storeys without needing resource consent.

This was in response to submitters concerns around traffic congestion, air pollution and a lack of infrastructure.

Also, that greater building heights and intensification would impact the “unique character” of the area.
“Increasing the permitted height within the area [Mount Maunganui North] will not maintain the existing character and amenity of the area,” the panel’s decision said.

Cooney said the panel’s recommendation was “common sense”.

Having lived in the Mount all his life Cooney said his views weren’t about “NIMBYism” (not in my back yard).

As a developer he was all for intensification, but you had to pick a location that suited, he said.

Solutions were needed for infrastructure, congestion, and air pollution from nearby industry before planning rules were applied “carte blanche,” said Cooney.

“You must put the horse before the cart, in this case, they've got the cart before the horse. You must resolve those issues and have a game plan to solve those issues.

"It is all about urban good urban outcomes."

Barry Brown, of the Mount Matters Residents Group, agreed the panel’s recommendations were common sense.

“Common sense and good planning have prevailed with the Panel recommending that heights in Mount North should remain as originally notified,” he said in a statement.

When Plan Change 33 was notified in August 2022 the council originally proposed to keep the Mount Maunganui building heights the same but apply the MDRS. This changed in August 2023 after some submissions requested greater heights.

In response to Cooney’s concerns, a council spokesperson said they wouldn’t be commenting ahead of Monday’s meeting.

Permitted buildings heights are set to change across the city under the plan change.

Building heights between four and six storeys would be enabled in areas within five to 10 minutes’ walk of some of the city’s commercial centres including Bayfair in Mount Maunganui and Pāpāmoa Plaza.

Building heights of eight storeys would be allowed along Cameron Road in the Te Papa peninsula.

In the city centre, buildings up to 13 storeys could be built and eight storey buildings would be permitted within 1500m of the CBD.

Six of the panel’s recommendations do not align with council’s recommendations under the plan change.

The commission will decide whether to accept the panel’s recommendations on Monday.

If the recommendations are not accepted, they will be referred to the housing minister for a decision, which cannot be appealed.

LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air.

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