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Daily calls about housing

Gisborne Mayor Rehette Stoltz hears calls for more housing and the struggle to develop on a daily basis.

But Mayor Stoltz says houses are being built to address demand in the region, and rules around urban development will be looked at.

“Every day in my office, once a day, someone will talk to me about housing. What is happening, there’s a crisis, why are houses not being built?” she is asked.

But at a meeting with business leaders yesterday, Mrs Stoltz said 207 houses were in the process of being consented, most of them being built by Kainga Ora.

The council has also allocated $18.9 million towards reviewing the Tairawhiti Resource Management Plan (TRMP) over the next seven to eight years.

Through this plan, housing and urban development would be looked at in the first three years.

It comes as 350 people live in motels in Gisborne and 500 people wait for houses.

Housing and future development were discussed at a Long Term Plan 2021-31 community consultation meeting with the Chamber of Commerce last night.

“The feedback we often get is it is a struggle to develop, the timeframes, the costs are a big burden,” Mrs Stoltz said.

“It is a massive review that we are doing, and why we are doing it is to make it easier to develop, build and work in our place, also while we protect our environment,” she said.

Council chief of strategy and science Jo Noble said the plan included zoning and the rules that governed the process for getting a resource consent and how easy or hard that process was.

Aspects of the plan, such as fresh water and the strategic direction, had to be looked at first but the next question was what else should be prioritised, Ms Noble said.

“The message that is coming through loud and clear is housing supply and urban development. So that’s highly likely to be in that first tranche of work.

“Not just the high-level stuff, but going into the more detailed stuff about what governs your subdivision, how easy is it to redevelop in the city, where are future residential areas, and alongside that, what is the infrastructure needed to support that growth.”

The chamber had asked questions of the council about the central business district.

“Our role at the moment in terms of what we’ve included in the long term plan is all about the TRMP, how we zone our CBD, what rules we put in place, how easy or how hard we make it for people to do different things.

“I know there are a lot of vacant buildings but we are limited in terms of the controls we have over landowners aside from those rules and regulations that we put in that resource management plan.”

The management plan covers all the council’s resource management plans including the District Plan, Regional Policy Statement, Regional Coastal Plan, Freshwater Plan and regional plans.

Gisborne Chamber of Commerce president Paul Naske said business owners in the region wanted rates affordability, maintenance and improvement of existing infrastructure and responsible development. “They basically care about fixing up the pipes and roads that we’ve got and planning for growth.”

The chamber would make a formal submission to the Long Term Plan on behalf of its members.

Commercial rates, wastewater treatment and the council’s continued call for the reinstatement of the rail line were also discussed at the meeting.,

Long-Term Plan consultation runs from March 24 to April 23.

This will be followed by hearings in May before the plan is deliberated on and then adopted in June.