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The changing face of Horowhenua

A tsunami of demolition, construction and land and property development will be unleashed across the district if Horowhenua District Council adopts the draft Horowhenua Growth Strategy 2040.

Late last year council voted in support of establishing a property investment trust, which economic development board members will be directors of, that will be involved in many of the land and property development projects included in the draft growth strategy especially projects in the central business districts (CBD) of Levin, Shannon and Foxton.

Council's economic development manager Shanon Grainger said in a report to council in support of the property investment trust that, "HDC has approximately 40% more property than is required...resolving both of these issues is a matter of determination and momentum. Potential returns are high. The released resource would be plentiful."

He also said, "a number of projects...offer significant opportunities" including, "Local projects such as the Levin Town Centre" and, "the freeing up of land for residential, commercial and industrial construction."

Council's 20 year LTP states a preferred option of selling community halls, "However, if selling them proves unsuccessful in some cases there may be no other option but to demolish derelict buildings."

Mr Grainger also referred to the financial advantages of earthquake prone priorities adopted by council, “Meeting the requirements of the legislation and consequent obligations (public and private) arising from national Earthquake Prone Building policy. Varying actions or proposals are required over the next seven years, all of which involve potentially large sums of money and considerable economic opportunity.”

Other land and development projects included in the draft growth strategy the Trust would undertake include, “Levin/Taitoko’s spatial plan and housing redevelopment [and] shopping precincts” and the new medical centre on the site of the former 100 year old Jack Allen House in Levin's CBD which has been demolished despite its heritage value.

Recently Radio NZ reported that residents in the Southland town of Winton, "fears for the future of its main street as owners ditch their buildings rather than earthquake-strengthen them. RNZ has learned at least three two-storey buildings in the central Southland town of Winton have sold for less than $50,000 in the past two years. That's prompting calls for the government to reconsider the rules."

An explosion in new house builds across the residential sector is set to continue until 2040 if the growth strategy is adopted and a proposal to change District Plan rules allowing increased urban density proceeds.

The draft growth strategy 2040 intends to allow all new land and property developments including commercial, industrial and residential to connect to the existing essential infrastructure that council's LTP states is, “now reaching, or have already passed, the end of their expected life."

Council states that if the draft 20 year growth strategy is adopted, "then a proposal to change areas currently zoned rural in the District Plan would be changed to zoning to reflect residential, greenbelt residential or Industrial zoning. This could impact significantly on rates."

The draft growth strategy 2040 does not include strategies to tackle housing affordability for the low waged sectors. Low/stagnant wages are regarded as an advantage in an economic development report by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) commissioned by the council and economic development board.

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