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Ratepayers urged to partake in economic planning

12 August 2005


Ratepayers urged to partake in region’s economic planning

Ratepayers in the Wellington region are being urged to have their say on how the region’s economy can reach its potential.

A ‘Growth Framework’ discussion document – effectively the base from which a growth strategy will be developed - was presented to Prime Minister Helen Clark today by the Mayors of the nine local authorities in the Greater Wellington area.

“As a region, we’ve performed well and our incomes are among the highest in the country, but indications are that the good times won’t continue unless we take action now,” said Murray McCaw, Independent Chairman of the group tasked with forming an economic strategy for the region and ensuring its international competitiveness.

“As we operate in an international market for skills, population and businesses, we need to ensure we take an international perspective to our growth in terms of educational opportunities and career and business growth, as well as being a great place to live” he says.

“While recent indicators, such as employment growth are encouraging, the region has several issues it needs to tackle. For example population growth forecasts, especially among 25-35 year olds, are modest. Potentially this could limit our ability to fund infrastructure including roads, communications, public transport and water” he says.

The Wellington region covers the lower North Island from Wellington City, up to Masterton and across to the Kapiti Coast. The nine local authorities in the area have joined together as the Wellington Regional Strategy Forum, tasked with developing the economic growth strategy.

The Growth Framework recommends four key initiatives or focus areas:

1. Effective leadership. Regions that perform well invariably have proactive and innovative local government. This includes adopting a region wide approach to planning, recognising Central Government’s importance (it’s the region’s largest employer), streamlining council processes and making sure no one falls behind – there are high deprivation levels in some parts of the region.

2. ‘Quality regional form and systems’ means towns and cities that are well designed, have good accessibility to jobs, entertainment, shopping and recreation, and have a strong sense of community and personal safety. The region is well placed in this area with excellent north-south transport options. However there is scope to use the transport links to ‘mature’ some areas (for example Hutt City, Masterton and Porirua). In other words take advantage of the trickle down effects of a strong Wellington City CBD. This includes increasing the range of housing choices within the region and recognising the importance of the Maori economy which is growing strongly.

3. Unlocking economic potential. There are ‘gaps’ in the operation of the region’s economy. For example the length of the airport runway constrains freight volumes. Modest population growth is potentially an issue, especially among 25-35 year olds, many of whom travel overseas. Of particular importance is the need to ‘commercialise’ ideas so the region benefits from its innovation skills.

4. ‘Internationalisation ’ refers to the extent to which the region sells itself (especially its service skills) to the world. In addition to a stronger export orientation, this involves a marketing strategy and brand for the region as both a business and tourist destination, and developing better international connections.

Mr McCaw says the Forum is urging people to have their say on the Growth Framework discussion document. This feedback will be used in developing a Growth Strategy for the region which was due to be released mid 2006.

The timeframe for submissions is mid August until 30 September. Copies of the Growth Framework discussion document can be obtained from Council offices or by calling 04 384 5708 (0800 496 734 outside Wellington). Further information is available on www.wrs.govt.nz

ENDS


BACKGROUNDER


Wellington Regional Strategy


What is the Wellington Regional Strategy Forum (WRSF)?

The nine local authorities that make up the Greater Wellington Region are formally working together under a joint committee known as the Wellington Regional Strategy Forum. Positively Wellington Business (the regional economic development agency) and iwi (via the advisory committee, known as Ara Tahi) are also partners in this process.

What local authorities are involved?

- Kapiti Coast District
- Porirua City
- Upper Hutt City
- Hutt City
- Masterton District
- Carterton District
- South Wairarapa District
- Wellington City
- Greater Wellington Regional Council


What is the Wellington Regional Strategy Forum aiming to achieve?

The Forum has the goal of “building an internationally competitive Wellington by developing and implementing a vision and an integrated framework to achieve sustainable growth for the Wellington region”


What is the Growth Framework document

The Growth Framework is the basis from which an economic growth strategy for the region will be developed. The Growth Framework is being released now to get public input at an early stage.

What research has gone into developing the Growth Framework?

A series of technical working papers were initially developed to provide an understanding of the current state of the local economy, trends affecting the region and information from successful cities/regions elsewhere in the world. These technical reports are listed below. The full reports are available on www.wrs.govt.nz

- Regional Stocktake
- Regional Community Outcomes
- Successful Cities
- Economic Outlook
- Global Trends & Uncertainties
- Demography
- Housing
- Human Capital
- Business Retail

These technical reports were subsequently used by local and international economists and urban design specialists in developing their recommendations for the region. These reports are also available on www.wrs.govt.nz and were compiled by:

- Derek Kemp Report “Prosperous places”
- City Scope Report
- McDermott Miller Report
- Urbanista Report
- SGS Economics and Planning Report
- Simon Arnold Report
- Berl Report


This substantive background material provided the basis for the Growth Framework document.

How will the public be informed?

The following will occur/be available during the consultation period:

- Publicity around the launch (August 15th)
- Quantitative research among ratepayers
- A re-designed web site www.wrs.govt.nz
- Advertorial in the community newspapers.
- Newspaper advertising
- Public exhibitions at Council offices
- Communication via existing council communication vehicles.
- Direct mail of the Growth Framework to key stakeholders
- Presentations to key stakeholder groups


What are the timeframes?

Aug 15 Launch of the Growth Framework, public feedback sought

Sept 30 Period for public feedback concludes

Oct-Dec Public feedback collated and used in developing a draft
Wellington Regional Strategy document. Further public feedback will be sought when this document is complete.

Mid 2006 Final Wellington Regional Strategy document released

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