Housing ministry insists massive Rotorua development safe to go ahead despite community flooding fears

A Rotorua housing development that's partly prone to flooding has locals concerned after plans were rejected in 2018 over similar fears. 

The plans for housing on Ngongotahā Rd were rejected in 2018 by Housing Minister Megan Woods because of flooding fears, but five years later the development is likely to go ahead. 

A growing number of concerned residents have compelled developers to meet with locals and discuss the issues. 

Rotorua District residents and ratepayers chair Reynold Macpherson fears Ngongotahā's infrastructure won't cope with around 1000 extra residents once the development is complete. 

"[Locals are] unsure about the extent to which the infrastructure, that is the sewage and stormwater infrastructure, can cope," he said. 

"It's going to add a lot of extra water to the Waiteti stream and then put downstream housing at risk."

He said there is "strong concern" around the lack of a plan, or a plan that he hasn't seen, around roading, education, social and police services. 

"There's a whole string of concerns relating to the absence of developed plans."

And in the wake of Cyclone Gabrielle, previous concerns from the Housing Minister around flooding in the area, are front of mind for concerned locals. 

"The concerns over Cyclone Gabrielle are easily recognised here as being a possibility. So [we’re hoping for] reassurance that they're going to have to take account of further Gabrielle events here in Rotorua."

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) said "flooding constraints" on "part" of the property is a key factor that will inform the final design. 

"Making sure that homes are not damaged by flooding, the development does not give rise to flooding effects upstream or downstream of the catchment, and ensuring that the overall flood storage is not reduced."

The spokesperson said it purchased the 15.9 hectare property in 2022 as the city's housing supply hasn't kept up with a growing population.

"HUD is committed to exploring every opportunity to increase housing supply in Rotorua so we can alleviate the severe housing stress experienced by many people in the community."

The spokesperson said HUD has undertaken its due diligence investigations of the property "including legal, geotechnical, contamination, quantity surveying, ecology, valuation, traffic, and infrastructure".

The HUD spokesperson said the site isn't currently zoned for residential development, but Ngongotahā has been identified as a growth area and an application is being prepared by planners. 

"Progressing this development now enables a significant residential development to get underway to maintain the increase in building activity across Rotorua."

The development is expected to deliver around 350 homes over the next five to seven years, with 196 homes built in the development's first phase.