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30-year Growth Plan Under Spotlight

Residents, businesses, landowners and young people across the Waikato are being urged to have their say on an updated 30-year growth management strategy.

Future Proof is a 30-year growth plan for the Hamilton, Waipā and Waikato sub-region. The plan, which first emerged in 2009, has now been updated by an extended group of partners including central government.

Waikato District Council, Hamilton City Council, Waipā District Council, Waikato Regional Council, tangata whenua, central government partners, and Tamaki Makaurau partners (iwi and Auckland Council) will release the updated version on Monday (October 4).

It takes into account the growing importance of the Hamilton to Auckland Corridor Plan and the rapidly growing Hamilton-Waikato metropolitan area, providing a planning blueprint for the wider region.

It also factors in key government initiatives such as the National Policy Statement on Urban Development (NPS-UD) and the Government's Urban Growth Agenda. Both initiatives have a strong focus on housing.

Bill Wasley, the independent chair of the Future Proof Implementation Committee, says the updated draft strategy is a model for local government, iwi and government agencies to work collaboratively and ensure growth is well-planned.

“This is beyond territorial boundaries. In a planning sense, we simply can’t think like that anymore. It’s about actively collaborating to determine how we want the wider region to develop and grow. This strategy provides a framework to manage growth in a staged and coordinated way and to address complex, cross-boundary planning, infrastructure and environmental issues.”

Developers, residents, businesses and young people need to know what Future Proof is proposing and provide their feedback, he said.

“The work we have done shows there is more than enough land in the wider region for development; land is not the problem. The challenge is servicing that land and providing infrastructure in an affordable way so land can be developed to provide different types of housing, including far more affordable housing,” Wasley said.

“To get well functioning settlements in places where we most need them, we need to take a wide range of issues into account, including the health of the Waikato River, climate change, transport links and community services,” he said.

“We can’t just keep allowing greenfield developments; our communities and our environment can’t afford it. So this updated strategy is proposing a number of changes to drive growth to where we most need it.”

The strategy sets out a settlement pattern for how and where growth will occur in the sub-region. It has been updated to reflect the latest development demand and supply figures which indicates there is plenty of suburban land to meet demand. It also includes criteria to help determine out-of-sequence or unanticipated development.

Waikato Regional Council chair Russ Rimmington said for the wider Waikato region to grow and thrive, local government partners, government and Iwi must plan and act collaboratively.

“Growth simply cannot be ‘allowed’ to happen without considering the wider picture. We need a strategically aligned, boundary-less planning approach to how and where growth happens across the sub-region,” he said.

“And it’s not just about infrastructure, Future Proof is much more comprehensive and much more complex than that. There are a range of factors to be taken into account, including environmental factors which must be actively managed.

“For example, we need to ensure the health of the Waikato River continues to remain a priority and regional planning should reflect that. That’s a bottom line.”

The updated Future Proof strategy includes seven “transformational moves for change” including enhancing the health and well-being of the Waikato River, a “radical” transport shift to a multi-modal transport network and more quality, denser housing options to increase housing affordability and choice.

Success measures include a reduction in transport emissions, a long-term improvement in housing affordability across the sub-region, greater choice and uptake of public transport and a more prosperous local economy.

Feedback on the updated Future Proof strategy is open until November 12 with public hearings likely to be held in December. Those wishing to make a submission should go to www.futureproof.org.nz.

© Scoop Media

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