Rapid population growth in some North Canterbury towns could lead to future housing shortages, a new report warns.

The proposed Waimakariri District Plan, which is expected to take effect later this year, is set to open up more than 330 hectares of land for housing in Rangiora and Kaiapoi, allowing for up to 20,000 new homes.

A report by consultancy firm Formative Ltd assessed the capacity for growth in the Waimakariri towns of Rangiora, Kaiapoi, Woodend, Ravenswood and Pegasus over the next 30 years.

The district’s population of 70,000 could balloon out to 100,000 over the next 30 years, based on Stats NZ’s high growth scenario. Based on a formula of 2.6 people per house, nearly 12,000 new houses will be needed.

“This means there is sufficient capacity within the urban environment to meet expected demand for both the medium and long term,” the report says.

However, the report’s authors warned the situation in Kaiapoi “should be monitored”.

“If growth continues at or exceeds the high projection, the council may need to provide more capacity.”

Rapid growth in Woodend, Ravenswood and Pegasus means the area is likely to face a shortage of housing supply by around 2037, so it will need to be monitored, the report says.

But the report’s authors suggest the shortfall could be accommodated in Rangiora and Kaiapoi.

The council faced criticism last year following a private change request from Rolleston Industrial Developments Ltd to rezone 156 hectares at Ohoka, near Rangiora, to build 850 houses.

In their recommendation to decline the request, the independent commissioners criticised the council for not making enough provision for housing growth.

The latest report predicted there would be demand for 4970 new houses in the main towns over the next decade and 11,700 over the next 30 years, based on the high growth scenario.

The population of Kaiapoi of more than 13,000 is expected to grow by 52% over the next 30 years, creating demand for around 2900 new houses.

Around 97 hectares in east and north Kaiapoi has been earmarked for growth in the proposed District Plan, including land which was red zoned after the 2010 and 2011 Canterbury earthquakes.

Any development would be subject to planning rules, taking into consideration flood risk and other variables, a council spokesperson said.

Rangiora’s population is approaching 20,000 and is expected to grow by 36% by 2053, requiring around 2960 new houses. Under existing planning, there is capacity for 2450 new houses, with the proposed District Plan set to open up 235 hectares in northeast, southeast and southwest Rangiora.

Ongoing growth was also projected in Oxford and in the district’s rural communities. The council will seek another report once the new District Plan is in place.

By David Hill, Local Democracy Reporter

Local Democracy Reporting is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air