Monday, February 26, 2024

Western Bay building panel members appointed

Western Bay of Plenty District Council has appointed a new independent panel to hear public submissions regarding new home building rules for Western Bay’s two fastest growing towns.

Council says the new housing density rules were introduced to Te Puke and Ōmokoroa to enable growth and create a wider range of housing options. These changes were initiated through the Government’s prescribed medium density residential standards (MDRS) that sought to achieve the growth by building up rather than out.

Greg Carlyon.

The Council has appointed Commissioner Panel Chair Greg Carlyon, and Commissioners Alan Withy, Lisa Mein and Pia Bennett to hear and provide recommendations on the new housing rules and the supporting rule changes.

This new independent panel will hear from up to 60 submitters in September, and make recommendations on our two relevant planning processes known officially as Plan Change 92 Ōmokoroa and Te Puke Enabling Housing Supply and other supporting matters, and the Notice of Requirement for Active Reserve, Ōmokoroa.

“We’ve spent a lot of time talking about the wide ranging implications of these new rule changes, and building relationships with submitters so we can understand the issues at hand and get the best outcomes for the community,” said Council Environmental Planning Manager, Natalie Rutland.

“While that approach is more time consuming, we’re confident that we’ll end up with a more robust plan change because of it.”

The panel will make recommendations to Council, and Council or the Minister will make the final decision on the rules, Ms Rutland said.

“There isn’t an appeal process so it’s extra important we reach the best outcomes upfront,” she said.

The new housing rules allow more homes to be built in existing residential areas across Te Puke and Ōmokoroa, where they have access to the existing infrastructure, amenities, and community facilities. When new home designs meet the government’s pre-set density standards they do not require a resource consent (building consents are still required.) This enables development of properties to have up to three homes up to three storeys high in existing residential neighbourhoods.

Council’s supporting rule changes seek to enable medium density living while maintaining the things about Te Puke and Ōmokoroa that their communities love, such as their respective small-town charm and a live-work-play vibe. Changes for Ōmokoroa also include an active reserve, where recreational facilities could be developed beside the planned new school.

“Te Puke and Ōmokoroa are growing, and it’s important we do what we can to ensure that growth happens in a way that’s consistent with what the community wants,” said Ms Rutland.”

She said some developers had already begun to adapt to the new density standards, with several new compliant or generally compliant development applications submitted to Council since August 2022, including large scale development applications in both Te Puke and in Ōmokoroa.

For more information about the new rules for building homes in Te Puke and Ōmokoroa go to westernbay.govt.nz/housing-rules and westernbay.govt.nz/district-plan-changes.

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