We’re at the Land Development Engineers Forum, tackling the hot topic of the changing landscape of development. With reform reaching every corner of the land development industry, this forum has been an important opportunity for collaborative conversation and sharing of information around three waters, resource management, urban planning, intensification and more. Thank you to our Platinum Sponsor, Stormwater 360 and to over 90 development engineers from around Aotearoa for joining us!

Stephen Selwood, Commissioner for Tauranga City Council asked the audience, ‘how do we manage growth going forward?’

With a shortage of houses, increasing costs and growing congestion in Tauranga, coupled with the need to create 1,000+ homes per year to meet the predicted population growth, we need to work out how to deliver both sustainability and affordability, while focusing on a reduction in carbon. To solve these issues, he highlighted the need to find a way to invest in transport infrastructure and multi-modal transport to change behaviours away from car dependency. Stephen emphasised that we’re already paying the price and consequences of poor infrastructure through the high cost of homes.

Emily Botje, Asset Management Lead at the National Transition Unit for Three Waters at the Department of Internal Affairs gave attendees an update for the transition to the Three Waters Programme.

With risks changing daily across Aotearoa, she shared information on the plans for the management of stormwater, and the need for those involved to have a good base of information on day 1 of the new entities in 2024. A key take away was the importance of stories as a key element of asset management plans and engagement.

Janine Speedy, Team Leader: City Planning and Claudia Helberg, Team Leader: Infrastructure Planning from Tauranga City Council shared the challenges of housing and intensification in Tauranga.

Within the city, infrastructure challenges have made it difficult to plan for growth, particularly around modes of transport, homes, and water. In regard to car parking, they are partly relying on the market to decide on the need for car parks whereas in the waters space, it’s important that actual growth models are re-aligned with Long Term Plans. Enabling intensification has meant that it’s often difficult to predict developments, but the council are keen to ensure that city planning creates real improvements for communities.

Sarah Dove, Principal Transport Planner and Natalie Rooseboom, Manager: Asset Services presented Tauranga City Council’s Street Design Toolkit.

Previously, most street design only focused on cars; however, this new tool has been introduced to consider activity, exercise, environmental outcomes and more. The focus of the tool is people, for whom streets are designed, with place and movement central to streets. The tool is available to all, and offers flexible guidance to developers, transport planners, engineers and more. It has also been developed to be user friendly, using illustrations, diagrams, and images to help users visualize the goals of Tauranga City Council.

Alice Balme, Partner at Wynn Williams joined us to share her understanding of the newly introduced natural and built environment bill, having digested it in the last 48 hours since its release!

Growing from the 350-page RMA to the 800-page, bill, the new act aims to simplify the process of resource management and consenting. The natural and built environment bill replaces the RMA which has brought tension between protecting the environment, nimbyism and the enablement of development. With more than $1.29B estimated to be spent on consenting projects each year across the county, the new bill means that much of the detailed work will happen upfront and before the consent process. It also means that the notification process will be much harder to lodge complaints for no real reason.

Mike Speed, Contracts Manager at Bay Civil encouraged collaboration amongst those in the industry, with civil contracting and land development going hand in hand.

He highlighted the need for long term, lasting and trusted partnerships to ensure that what’s best for the project and industry is placed at the upmost importance. He talked to the importance of elevating construction, through qualifications, study, and experience, in order for contractors to bring value and be respected at the table.

Bryan Perring, Development Director at Kaitiaki Property, gave an overview of The Sands Development in Pāpāmoa, which will be one of the site visits on Friday.

Within the development, there will be a housing typology for every stage of life, from 4-bedroom houses to 1-bedroom apartments. Along with building houses, the development aims to create a community that fosters social interactions. The development will slowly be built over the next 25 years, creating homes for hundreds of thousands of people.

ICE Construction Ltd Owner, Marianne O’Halloran, provided the audience with an in depth view of the soil beneath our towns and cities, and in particular, the risks of landslides depending on the permeability.

She shared insights into environmental risks at home and abroad, including the dangers of adding plastic wraps to fruit orchards, which create plastic breakdown and also mean that bees aren’t able to pollinate orchards. Marianne also shared detailed analysis on flooding in Aotearoa, and encouraged engineers to ‘work with the slope’ rather than trying to build walls to hold it in.

In the final part of the day, Jeremy Rees PDP and LDEG committee member updated the audience on the review of the New Zealand Standard 4404, the standard for land development engineering in New Zealand.

Finally, some of our speakers came together to answer questions from delegates. Touching on three waters, RMA, intensification and much more. It was clear from the open conversations, that one of the most vital elements of the industry is the people who create and enable work. Highlights included ‘Development Engineers will be the most sought-after roles in the 3 Waters Reform, and that we need to support our young people to be successful.

As the landscape of development changes, a key message from the forum was that new communities can be created as the face of New Zealand specific changes. As an industry, land development engineers can come together with peers to make a real difference to our organisations, clients, and communities by showing leadership and sharing knowledge.

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