Mayor concerned because Kāinga Ora proposes high-rise in suburb Rotorua

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Glenholme south, adjacent to Rotorua Golf Course.
Photo: Felix Desmarais / LDR

The mayor of Rotorua has expressed concern over a submission from Kāinga Ora on a proposed change to the district plan, which could result in six-story buildings being zoned outside the downtown area.

A local resident said she was concerned the changes would “ruin Rotorua”, but Kāinga Ora says her suggestion supported housing supply in general, not just social housing, near the city centre.

Plan Amendment 9 was communicated at the end of August and could be submitted until October 14.

It was triggered by the government’s decision to allow Rotorua to join Tier 1 major urban centers that fall under the Medium Density Housing Standards (MDRS), allowing people to build up to three units and three storeys in most residential locations in urban Rotorua – without the need for land use permission.

The government directed the council to pass an amendment to the district plan by August 20, resulting in a proposal proposing to allow medium-density housing – up to 12-metre-tall buildings – in most of urban Rotorua , and a higher density – 19.5 to 32 meters – close to and within the city center and commercial centers.

Kāinga Ora, one of the 99 proposers of the proposal, instead of ending a high-density zone up to 19.5 m at York and Seddon Sts, recommended extending it as far south as the Arikikapakapa Rotorua Golf Course , bordered by Fenton St, Old Taupō Rd and Amohau St. That would add about another nine blocks and capture much of Glenholme, where the median home price was $770,000, according to OneRoof.

CR Tania Tapsell

Rotorua Mayor Tania Tapsell
Photo: Andrew Warner/Rotorua Daily Post

On Monday, Rotorua Mayor Tania Tapsell said she was concerned that Kāinga Ora’s submission would allow high-density zones to be placed in areas that were “inappropriate.”

She said the submission significantly pushed the boundaries for high-density zoning and believed it “posed a risk to communities in the area who could see a change in how their neighborhoods look over time.”

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“It exceeds where we deem it appropriate for high-density development.”

She urged the community to submit to the second round of consultations – dubbed “further submissions” – which started on November 12 and closes on Friday.

Tapsell said another submission from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, if implemented, would lead to relaxation of rules around papakāinga, which could unlock housing in rural areas such as Rotoiti or Rotomā.

It could lead to increased infrastructure requirements for those areas, which the council had not necessarily budgeted for, she said, and those consequences had to be taken into account.

She said she was not necessarily for or against those changes, but that the further round of submissions was the only further opportunity for the public to have their say on submissions that went beyond the board’s original proposal.

An independent report commissioned by the Rotorua Lakes Council in 2021 stated that the city needed about 3,500 more homes by 2023, more than 6,000 by 2030, and nearly 10,000 more by 2050.

Rotorua District Councilor Don Paterson.

Rotorua District Councilor Don Paterson.
Photo: Andrew Warner/Rotorua Daily Post/LDR

Rotorua District Councilor Don Paterson also urged people to submit, saying this would help the council be sure of the community’s position.

Glenholme resident Judith Lewis said she believed Kāinga Ora’s submission, if implemented, would “really spoil [or] ruin Rotorua”.

She said the city was the “heart of tourism” and tourists had to keep coming for the city and its businesses to survive. She believed this could be affected by the proposed changes.

“It would spoil our suburb because we’re a very settled neighborhood. We have trees and parks around and we just love it. It’s full of older people…living happily here. We really wish it was very looks similar to what it is now as it is a great place to live.

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“It would just change the whole environment.”

She urged fellow residents to submit and on Tuesday called on neighbors to support them in this.

A map showing the area proposed by Kāinga Ora for high-density zoning.

A map showing the area proposed by Kāinga Ora for high-density zoning
Photo: Screenshot / Rotorua Lakes Council

Lewis, who has lived in Glenholme since 1973, said she was concerned that some of the problems reported in emergency housing motels on Fenton St could be transferred to public housing in Glenholme under the proposed changes to the submission.

She wondered if houses could be built further out of town, and she believed that some people who needed houses had come from out of town and could return there.

“I feel like this has become Rotorua’s problem when it really shouldn’t be.”

She believed that social housing should go to the local population.

“People still want to live in a place where they have connections, they have family.”

Saving Glenholme chairman Raj Kumar said his group opposed Kāinga Ora’s subjugation, saying it could be a “nightmare” for Glenholme residents.

Saving Glenholme chairman Raj Kumar.

Saving Glenholme chairman Raj Kumar.
Photo: Andrew Warner/Rotorua Daily Post/LDR

He said the fall in house values ​​was a factor, but his group was also concerned about the behavior of social housing tenants.

The submission would be “less of a problem” if it didn’t lead to a concentration of social housing.

Kumar said it was not the fault of Glenholme residents that there was a housing shortage in Rotorua and that many had worked hard to buy in the area.

“It’s not just about saving Glenholme, it’s about saving Rotorua.”

Rotorua MP Todd McClay, who had written to residents urging them to submit, said Kāinga Ora’s entry would significantly transform some of Rotorua’s neighborhoods.

“After Friday it will be too late and a tall building may come close to you.”

He understood that many residents who would be affected were unaware of Kāinga Ora’s subjugation and were “extremely concerned”.

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A Rotorua Lakes Council spokeswoman clarified that independent commissioners would hear comments on Plan Amendment 9 and make recommendations to the council.

“If the council rejects recommendations, the matter will be referred to the Minister of the Environment for decision. If the council accepts the recommendations, the plan amendment will take effect.”

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Rotorua MP Todd McClay
Photo: RNZ/Samuel Rillstone

Katja Lietz, general manager of urban planning and design at Kāinga Ora, said that as the country’s urban development authority, it was tasked with “promoting the pace” of creating more homes and supporting plans that would allow more people to live in locations with good access to jobs , amenities and services. and ensured sufficient housing stock so that the current pressure was relieved.

“Rotorua is in dire need of more housing to meet current demand, so it is important that the plan allows for enough land to meet the existing shortage and accommodate future population growth.”

She said Kāinga Ora was “generally in favour” of the council’s plan change, but suggested more high-density zoning in the Glenholme area due to its proximity to the town centre.

Lietz said Kāinga Ora wanted to work with the local government to enable thriving urban environments in a range of housing types – both public (social) and privately owned.

Entries consider the needs of an area in general terms and are not informed by which country Kāinga Ora currently owns or intends to purchase.

“Supporting intensification in an area doesn’t translate directly into Kāinga Ora delivering social housing projects there.”

She said that to increase housing supply, “we need to look at construction rather than outward”.

“Intensification, if done properly, can bring a number of benefits to an area, such as more opportunities for investment in infrastructure and local amenities, more green spaces, greater security and a stronger sense of community.”

Local democracy reporting is public interest journalism funded through NZ On Air

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