Securing a plan change for a key housing development in the Bay of Plenty

At a glance...

The client

Reddington Trust needed a residential plan change for a large-scale property development.

The challenge

There were protected wetlands and streams onsite, as well as areas of cultural interest that required special consideration.

The outcome

A comprehensive planning process that was managed with ease by the client.


Reddington Trust and Harrison Grierson came to us for help with developing a large block of land in Ohauiti, Tauranga. With protected wetlands and streams onsite, varying elevations, and areas of cultural interest, it was a complex undertaking. Here’s how we worked with archaeologists, stormwater and earthworks professionals to find the right solutions.

The ask

Reddington Trust has an interest in a large block of land in Ohauiti, Tauranga, which they want to develop for residential housing purposes.

“There were two sides to the land. One stretched down the western side of a ridge, and one to the east, so it wasn’t exactly flat! Our client needed a medium-density residential plan change in order to build.”

Phil Taylor | Senior Freshwater Ecologist at Ecological Solutions

Plan changes are required when land is currently zoned for something different than its intended future use.

“They involve in-depth due diligence where we outline the ecological values of a place. We essentially say: ‘here’s a piece of land and this is what’s on it. If the use changes from ‘rural’ to ‘residential’, we don’t think this will negatively impact its ecology, based on this information’.”

In this case, the plan change application needed to demonstrate the extent of the protected wetlands and streams onsite, and how that might change over time due to disturbance. If accepted, we would need to follow up with assessing the ecological impacts more thoroughly.

“The complexity with this project was not just securing the plan change for land that was varied in elevation and ecology, but the scale of that land and the number of interdisciplinary experts involved. We needed to blend our skills and expertise seamlessly to produce the desired outcome for our client.”

Why us?

We have a long-standing relationship with Harrison Grierson, having worked together on various projects in the past. We have extensive experience with enabling land developments to proceed while talking complex environmental challenges into account. This, combined with our experience in the Bay of Plenty region, meant that we were the natural choice for the job.

Our solution

We prepared a robust plan change application to confirm that rezoning the area wouldn’t compromise its ecological value.

“When the plan change was accepted, that meant we had agreement that shifting from rural to residential use probably wouldn’t be detrimental to the land. But we needed to prove it by thoroughly assessing the effects and overlaying earthworks and stormwater plans. So the next step was an Assessment of Environmental Effects (AEE). This is where we go into more detail about how construction might disturb the ecology, and how that disturbance can be managed.”

Between the plan change application and the AEE, we undertook a number of ecological surveys to gain a comprehensive understanding of the area.

“We completed stream classifications in accordance with the Bay of Plenty’s district plan. We identified the wetlands present, key tree species and vegetation. We also did some eDNA sampling which uses DNA deposited in the environment to identify the wildlife present there. This helped us to evaluate the importance of the stream habitat in particular.”

The results

By collaborating with a diverse team on this project, we have been able to ensure that the development proceeds without delays due to potential ecological challenges.

“The land was far from flat with plenty of contours and gullies, and this was particularly difficult for the stormwater modellers”

As a team, we worked to find solutions together. We are confident that the residential project will be able to go ahead and provide jobs and housing for people in Tauranga. 

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