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Wellington urban region completes first assessment

Five Wellington Councils have collaborated together to evaluate whether they are able to meet growth pressures until 2047. The 30-year assessment looks at Wellington’s urban District Councils (Wellington, Hutt City, Upper Hutt, Porirua, and Kapiti) in order to capture whether current and future growth areas would be able to cater for residential and business growth between 2017 and 2047 in the face of ongoing demand pressures.

Known as the Housing and Business Development Capacity Assessment (or simply HBA), the report estimates that the population by 2047 will reach between 550,000 and 610,000 people across the five districts, requiring an additional 49,000 to 61,000 dwellings from the 2017 base year. The assessment captured likely capacity in greenfield areas, infill intensification and redevelopment, and apartment living when built using current development controls and development patterns. This showed that across the five Council areas there was capacity for an estimated 40,000 dwellings—a shortfall of between approximately 9,000 to 21,000 dwellings when compared to baseline and high growth population projection, respectively.

The result did not come as a surprise to councils, as most of the existing land use controls across the five councils are relatively dated. It is for this reason that most councils are undertaking a review of land use controls in order to facilitate anticipated growth. Porirua City Council has recently launched its draft District Plan following the completion of its Growth Strategy, with Hutt City Council already actively progressing its Residential Review (Plan Change 43), following notification in November 2017 and a hearing in September 2019. Wellington City is progressing it’s Planning for Growth programme, which includes a draft Spatial Plan due to be consulted on in February 2020, as well as undertaking a full District Plan review. Upper Hutt recently launched its formal review of Rural and Residential Chapters via Plan Change 50, which seeks to respond to identified housing demands. Kapiti is currently in the process of resolving appeals on its Proposed District Plan and is preparing to commence a review of its 2007 Development Management Strategy.

Business results under the assessment remained positive. Business Demand results highlight how the Wellington economy is set to grow, with Porirua, Upper Hutt, and Kapiti each reaching an output of over $1 billion by 2047, while Wellington City and Lower Hutt are anticipated to reach an output of over $35 billion and over $5 billion, respectively.

Reporting notes the uniqueness and increasing complexity of the Wellington Regional economy and how this is influenced by a strong presence of human capital. It is anticipated that this will drive the economy to be more focused around commercial and government sectors, with an overall shift in industrial demand towards more service sector industries.

Under this growth, the Wellington regional urban area is anticipated to have ample capacity with 180ha of vacant business land, and 389ha of infill potential, providing a surplus of business land until 2047.

The last remaining hurdle for Councils to overcome will be infrastructure to service housing and business demand, with the report noting constraints of varying degrees across the three waters (water supply, stormwater, and wastewater) and roading networks. Councils will continue to analyse the impact of the HBA results and how best to manage the servicing of new development.

The report has taken approximately two years to complete, which has been directed by new urban development capacity monitoring requirements through the Resource Management Act. The government recently announced proposed changes to this legislation through the National Policy Statement for Urban Development, led by the Minister for Urban Development and Minister for the Environment.

The HBA report is available online

· https://planningforgrowth.wellington.govt.nz/

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