Ōpōtiki District Council is looking for a way forward to ease the pressures caused by a lack of housing in the Ōpōtiki town, but agrees there are only a few options at its disposal.

Council’s Planning and Regulatory Group Manager, Gerard McCormack, said that demand had thoroughly outstripped supply in town and the local community was feeling the pinch. With significant growth on the horizon as industry picked up with the build of the mussel factory, harbour entrance and a strong primary industry, council was looking to identify all the levers at its disposal to encourage the provision of affordable housing.

“At the coming October council meeting, we’ll be presenting a paper on the current state of the tight housing market in Ōpōtiki. We have identified the areas of privately-owned land in and around the town boundaries that are currently zoned ‘residential’ that could be used for additional housing.

“Council has an important role in this process – we make sure our District Plan is as ‘development friendly’ as possible and that we have zoned the land to encourage housing. We have a clear picture of what the future holds for growth opportunities in the town and our infrastructure planning and build takes this into account.

“The intention is to make sure that council’s role isn’t a barrier to development. We are not owners of residential land, nor are we a development agency best placed to manage or build houses. The council paper is about making sure that we create an easy-to-navigate regulatory environment – we are happy to be involved early and keen to work alongside developers to ensure a prompt and simple process,” Mr McCormack said.

Mr McCormack said that the development at the historic Sale Yards were an indication of how quickly council could move with a serious developer.

“We have been working closely with Kāinga Maha Ltd for a number of months and they recently lodged their resource consent application for 46 housing units on the site.

“This is fantastic news and we are keen to see work starting on the site this season. But as a district, we need more of this. In fact, we need something this scale almost every year for the coming ten years to get where we need to be.

“We are starting off the back foot with a current housing deficient. So with the projected growth added on top, it is going to take a concerted effort by developers, landowners, tradies, government and non-government housing providers and council, to get quality and affordable housing stock up to where it needs to be,” Mr McCormack said.