Updated 14 December 2018
The geography of Tauranga City is varied – from the open coast popular for living, recreation and tourism; to the cultural, recreational and economic base of the harbour, Port and City Centre; and to the productive soils surrounding urban areas. The resources of the City and the historical use of those resources have resulted in a complex relationship between the built and natural environment. There is a challenge to ensure that the City’s growth occurs in a sustainable manner, and a balance to be struck to ensure that growth is not encumbered by the Plan. The management of resources through the Plan is a key part of a sustainable future.
2A.2.1 The Natural Environment
In early 2009 less than 5% of the terrestrial area of the Tauranga Ecological District retained a cover of predominantly indigenous vegetation. Threats to the natural environment, such as habitat fragmentation and isolation, and introduced pests and invasive species, are matters to be considered in the management of the natural environment.
The Plan addresses the protection and management of significant ecological areas through specific mechanisms identifying and protecting significant remaining areas, by the encouragement of general improvements in the environmental integrity of areas, and by ensuring that the development of reserve land is of a scale and nature appropriate for the context of that land.
2A.2.2 The Landscape
The City has an international reputation for its quality coastal environment and outstanding natural features and landscapes such as Mauao and Tauranga Harbour. The potential impacts of the future growth of the City, while retaining and preserving these landscape values, is a challenge for the Plan. Landscapes can be more or less important to different people for different reasons.
The Plan provides for the protection of significant landscapes through their identification based on objective criteria, and through detailed consideration of the significance of their various elements. The Plan seeks to ensure a balance between providing opportunity for development and the protection of significant landscapes for the enjoyment of future generations.
2A.2.3 Culture and Heritage
Heritage encompasses natural, built and cultural features including historic buildings, archaeological sites, places, trees, landforms and ancestral lands. Heritage provides a link to the past and provides spiritual and cultural identity. Tangata whenua history recounts the arrival of Takitimu, Mataatua and Te Arawa waka in about the 12th century, from which early settlement was established around the harbour margins. European settlement began with missionaries in about 1820.
The Plan recognises and provides for the consideration of places of significance in the growth of the City by their specific identification, and through detailing the significance of these places in the Plan.
2A.2.4 Tangata Whenua
Only a fraction of original Maori landholdings in the City now remain in Maori ownership. Population forecasts suggest a trebling of the Maori population over the next 40 years. Much of the land within Maori ownership is held under the Te Ture Whenua Maori Land Act (1993), representing a challenge for the Plan in providing integration with this tenure system to meet the needs of tangata whenua. Tangata whenua have a strong cultural and historical association with the environment that is to be reflected in the treatment of resources in the City.
The Plan makes specific provision for papakainga development of land under the Te Ture Whenua Maori Land Act, and by identifying settlement opportunities about existing marae. The Plan also seeks to maintain environmental and cultural values of tangata whenua through environmental, heritage and landscape protection measures.
2A.2.5 Population Growth
Tauranga City has seen a rapid and sustained increase in population in the last few decades, beginning with a trebling of the population in the 1950s and continuing with the highest percentage increase in growth of any council area over the last decade. Forecasters see a continuation of this trend, leading to a significant increase in the population in the City. In addition, future growth estimates also identify a likely change in household structure with a significant increase in single and two-person households, and a significant increase in the proportion of the population aged over 80. This presents a challenge in accommodating future population growth in a way that meets the guiding purpose and principles of the RMA.
There are constraints to the capacity of greenfield land to accommodate population growth, particularly in the cost of infrastructure to service that land. This introduces a further issue in the finite nature of the land resource that can be efficiently serviced with infrastructure, and the inherent need to maximise the efficient use of the land resource. The result of population growth and the finite nature of the land resource are that the historical pattern of low density residential development has and will continue to change with more people living in a comparatively smaller space. While this has benefits in terms of the efficient use of the land resource and infrastructure, other issues arise such as protection of amenity and the changing character of the residential environment.
The affordability of housing is a significant issue. The reasons underlying this issue include:
A declining stock of properties in the range that entrants to the market can afford to finance, particularly with new housing product;
Existing housing supply not reflective of a changing demographic profile;
Housing supply and section size not reflective of an affordable profile in the City;
A significant increase in underlying land value in recent years;
The costs of providing and funding urban infrastructure.
The Plan seeks to address the implications of population growth and changing population structure through providing opportunities for a range of types of residential development, with particular emphasis on identified growth areas. In addition, the Plan provides service and employment opportunities near these residential environments, where business growth should be directed. There is a key focus on ensuring that future development occurs in the most efficient and effective manner, through integration with transportation and infrastructure considerations, this can only occur where residential and commercial growth takes place in identified locations and centres. A key objective is to encourage consolidation of future growth, both through infill of existing urban areas and higher-density living close to key services and employment opportunities. The Plan also provides choice in living environments through a variety of new greenfield development areas, while targeting a minimum yield from greenfield areas so as to encourage the efficient use of that resource. Controls over amenity are provided to preserve living standards in a changing residential environment, which needs to be balanced with ensuring the Plan has a minimum of regulation and does not encumber the efficient delivery of residential development to the marketplace.
In recent times the economy of the City has been expanding rapidly compared to most other areas of the country. Economic activity has included a significant focus on the development and construction industry, agriculture, horticulture, the export sector largely through the Port of Tauranga, and a strong manufacturing base. Projections show significant growth in most of these sectors, with the inclusion of leisure-based economic activity and a comparative reduction in the role of the agricultural sector.
The Plan provides for the growth of the economy (and so the wellbeing of the community through the preservation of values that make Tauranga an attractive place to live and visit), including the expansion of the Port, manufacturing and related infrastructure, enhancement of the main commercial centres, and essential infrastructure.
The City’s geography and built environment provide a challenge to the movement of goods and people. A focus for the future is on the development of key transport corridors, and encouraging a change in transport modes, including people having access to different options for transportation. Linking transportation considerations with land-use opportunities is a role of the Plan.
The Plan recognises transportation considerations by ensuring the function of key corridors is not affected by unplanned impacts, and that long-term land use is consistent with long-term transportation aspirations and the need to transport goods to, from and within the City. In addition, the Plan seeks to ensure that land-use opportunities are integrated with transportation considerations by providing access for people to essential services, and ensuring the provision of integrated and linked transport networks.
The Plan seeks to provide a statutory environment which will present an approach integrated with other authorities in the Western Bay of Plenty sub-region, to create an environment in which the core values that make the City a desirable place to live, work and play are retained.