Classic Group director Peter Cooney said he had been waiting for more than six years to deliver more affordable homes on this land in Tauriko West. Photo / Carmen Room
Tauranga developers say they have to wait years for land to be unlocked due to unclear government policies – preventing thousands of desperately needed homes from being built.
The situation was not unique to
the city and a developer say the delays are costing the industry “hundreds of millions of dollars.”
Developers interviewed by NZME say the Resource Management Act process and National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPS-FW) were to blame as no one seemed able to understand them .
And Tauranga City Council said it ‘generally agreed’ with developers that housing scaling up had been delayed for more than 12 months due to policies and a lack of government investment in networks transport.
Classic Group director Peter Cooney said his quest to provide more affordable homes in Tauriko West had been hampered by six years of delays.
”How can a region provide affordability if we are constrained by this type of delay?”
In Cooney’s view, the new home market in Tauranga was struggling.
”We have been unable to unlock new land to meet the city’s projected growth needs, and the complexity of the RMA process and new government policies is to blame.
”We are seeing councils across the country bogged down by the process and the volume of work that is coming in. The interpretation of the RMA and the introduction of new government policies have a major impact on the consent process – it gets harder, not easier.”
The NPS was causing major headaches and delays, he said.
”Councils are trying to find a workable solution with regard to the interpretation of what is proposed. There must be a fundamentally practical approach to these policies as it seems that whoever writes them has limited knowledge of the development industry.
”In principle, we agree with these policies but they must be able to be translated into practice and work with commercial meaning.”
Carrus managing director and urban task force chair for Tauranga, Scott Adams, said the NPS-FW was too broad.
In his view, this was done with an environmental lens only, which left no room for urban development in future growth areas being rezoned.
He praised Tauranga City Council for requesting an exemption from the freshwater policy, but said there could still be more roadblocks for Tauriko West and Te Tumu.
Tauriko West was to provide up to 4,000 homes while Te Tumu was to provide new homes for around 15,500 people.
Carrus was one of the landowners in Te Tumu who he said had been promised by Smartgrowth that “bulldozers would be on site in 2011”.
He said no one in New Zealand’s development community would ever deny that protecting the environment should be the priority, but it shouldn’t come at the total cost of what has helped the economy grow. .
Bluehaven chief executive Nathan York said the new national policies were becoming increasingly unclear.
They were unclear about national policy statements regarding freshwater, urban development, and medium-density housing and how they could be effectively implemented.
“It’s a bit of a tightrope for us trying to get that clarity, especially as local councils also have to understand and adapt their own town plans.”
In Tauranga, three new growth zones were currently planned, including Te Tumu, Tauriko, and Te Papa, all of which were going to take a long time to unlock.
According to him, it was necessary to intensify the existing urban wastelands (development on land already developed).
”However, we have to be realistic and recognize that this is going to be more expensive, more timely and will impact existing communities, so inevitably it will be much more difficult to execute.
”And what happens when it gets too hard? Not a lot. So we have this ideology that we’re going to build all of these new homes, in a reasonably short to medium time frame, in these dedicated areas – it’s just not going to happen. ”
Tauranga City Council’s director of urban planning and growth, Andrew Mead, said the government has been actively developing and implementing new policies that have affected urban growth and development in recent years.
Some of these policies have created unintended results or contradictory results with other national policies, for example, freshwater reforms.
This could affect the ability to supply the priority development areas of Tauriko West and Te Tumu while meeting NPS-UD requirements.
Other policy changes, such as the recent RMA Housing Amendments, have set Tauranga City Council back more than 12 months from stepping up housing in the city.
“As such, we generally agree with the developer opinions that have been expressed.”
The council has also consulted with the Ministry of Environment on revised freshwater reforms which include urban development and provisions specific to Tauranga.
”These would significantly help solve the problems in this space around wetland management, but, according to our submission, they do not solve all the problems in this space or create sufficient certainty that development can continue.
Rotorua Lakes Council’s Deputy Chief Executive for District Development, Jean-Paul Gaston, said he recognized that land development was becoming more complex for a variety of reasons, including different forms of government regulatory requirements, climate change and land constraints.
”The NPS-FM is changing the way we as communities treat our freshwater resource and we all need to adapt.
”As a council, we are doing everything we can to try to facilitate and encourage housing development to address our critical shortage and to get more housing as quickly and efficiently as possible, while at the same time we adapting and taking into account reforms as they come into force. ‘
Environment Minister David Parker said environment officials were analyzing the comments for possible changes to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management and the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater. ‘pure water.
They would give him advice in due time. No decision had been made on Tauranga’s bid.
”The public strongly supports the objectives of the Essential Freshwater package, which are to halt the degradation of freshwater; to make improvements within five years and reverse past damage to return our waterways and ecosystems to a healthy state within a generation – and that hasn’t changed.”
Last year the government, with the support of the National, Greens and Maori Party, passed the RM Enabling Housing Act.
This law allows medium density housing in cities in New Zealand, including Tauranga.
The cost-benefit ratio of this law revealed that between 3,800 and 8,500 homes would be activated in Tauranga without the need for resource consent, Parker said.
On Monday, Tauranga City Council’s Strategy, Finance and Risk Committee will report on submissions it made to the government’s draft National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management and the National Environmental Standard on fresh water.