Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Rotorua Lakes Mayor seeks housing agreement

Rotorua Lakes Council Mayor, Tania Tapsell says she will write to the Minister of Housing to seek a housing target agreement with the new Government.

The Mayor told last week’s Council meeting she had met with the new Minister of Housing, Chris Bishop; Associate Minister of Housing, Tama Potaka and Rotorua MP, Minister Todd McClay late last year to discuss Rotorua’s needs.

She followed up the meeting with a letter that reinforced the local housing situation and needs and mentioned key ways the council and government could work together to deliver better housing solutions for the people of Rotorua.

“She reinforced the need for the local community to have confidence that only locals would be placed in government housing in Rotorua and noted a request for an allocation of the Income Related Rent Subsidy for tenants in the council’s pensioner housing,” the Council said in a statement.

The letter sought a partnership approach to ending the use of motels for emergency housing and government agency support to maintain Rotorua’s reputation as a leading tourism destination by ensuring tourism accommodation was appropriately used.

She indicated Council was supportive of the ‘housing performance incentives for council’s’ outlined in National’s Going for Housing Growth Plan and would support build targets being included in a housing plan for Rotorua.

The Mayor said last year’s meeting and the letter reflected the start of Council’s relationship with the new ministers, who she said were very agreeable to finding shared outcomes to work towards.

The Mayor tabled her letter at last week’s meeting during an update on next steps for urban planning to meet local housing needs and align to the new Government’s housing policy.

The policy will require councils to bring more land forward for housing and will simplify planning rules to make resource and building consents for new houses cheaper and faster.

Through Council’s housing intensification Plan Change (PC9), Rotorua will likely meet the Government’s aim to ensure councils have 30 years of housing capacity and enough land set aside to meet demand targets, a report for the Council meeting noted.

Council moved to address the district’s housing shortfall and planning and zoning constraints through a series of actions that included re-zoning of Pukehangi to enable development there (Plan Change 2), requesting Rotorua’s inclusion in the Medium Density Residential Standards (MDRS), increasing pre-consent application support for developers, and PC9.

Council also received Government funding for infrastructure to support housing and has adopted a Future Development Strategy (FDS) detailing how it plans to provide enough land for projected housing and industrial/commercial growth over the next 30 years.

The FDS provides sufficient development opportunity to potentially move Rotorua to a housing sufficiency surplus.

A review of Council’s Housing Business Assessment (HBA) following upcoming decisions on PC9 would confirm this and Council could then also consider opting out of the MDRS and programming of any further District Plan changes that may be needed, the report to Council stated.

In the short-term, it says, there is an opportunity to engage directly with the new Minister of Housing and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on some form of agreement on housing targets and corresponding incentive funding.

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