4:04 PM (17 hours ago)
Explosion in at least 2100 new houses connected to existing infrastructure if proposed District Plan rule changes proceed
by Veronica Harrod
An explosion of at least 2100 new houses built in Levin alone would be given the green light if Horowhenua District Council proceeds with District Plan rules allowing increased urban density and large scale residential developments.
In December last year consultation started on plans to allow increased urban density and introduce provisions to, “enable large-scale, integrated residential developments” which would not have to be publicly notified.
This would open the door to a frenzy of land development projects in all residential areas connected to an existing water and waste water infrastructure which are outlined in detail in the 2008 Horowhenua Development Plan [2008 HDP].
Residents living in Foxton Beach, Foxton, Tokomaru and Shannon are also potentially affected by the proposed District Plan rules because plans to drive urban land development extend across 115.8 hectares in Foxton Beach, 177.61 hectares in Foxton, 23.8 hectares in Tokomaru and 104.7 hectares in Shannon.
If council votes in support of the changes, and considering the pro land development agenda the council is driving it probably will, this would mean an explosion of land development across the district that would be allowed to proceed without any public notifications.
Not only would an unprecedented amount of new build activity be allowed to proceed without public notification but land developers would not be required to pay one cent towards essential infrastructure costs because council voted out development contributions in 2015.
Development contributions are collected by the majority of councils across the country from land developers because the contribution is generally regarded the fairest most equitable way to distribute the cost of the inevitable upgrades, improvements and depreciation to the essential infrastructure including water and waste water. This means existing ratepayers would have to fund essential infrastructure costs which would inevitably lead to an increase in rates to support the exponential increase in house construction if the proposed District Plan changes proceed.
Three projects in the 2008 HDP that have already been rolled out include land development projects in north east Levin and a new medical centre in the central business district on council owned land. Most ominously plans to change District Plan rules allowing greater urban density are included in the implementation section of the 2008 Horowhenua Development Plan.
The 2008 HDP states that in Levin, “under the development plan it is proposed that 110ha of rural land will change zoning to be released in stages as ‘standard’ residential land (standard residential typically 500-1000m2 lots) which could accommodate around 1100 new households [and] some potential 1000 additional houses in the Green Belt Residential area.”
The affected areas include an area referred to as medium density residential in the Weraroa Road/Durham Street area, 29.2 hectares standard residential in Kawiu Road/Ryders Crescent, 25.5 hectares of standard residential in Kinross Street/Winiata Street/Tararua Road, 38 hectares of low density housing in Kawiu Road/Claremont Rise/Gordon Place and 17.5 hectares of low density residential in Fairfield Road/Roslyn Road.
But the largest and most ambitious land development that would be allowed to proceed without public notification is a 504.6 hectare land development project extending across Queen Street East/Gladstone Road/Tararua Road that has been set aside for Green Belt Residential which means larger section sizes.
The HDP says, “Development in the growth area would be connected to the existing reticulated infrastructure networks and established local roading patterns. There is a mix of size in existing landholdings…which yields some potential 1000 additional houses in the Green Belt Residential area.”
A council report on the proposed District Plan changes presented to the July 5, 2017 strategy committee says council has already held publicly excluded workshops with local land surveyors, land developers, builders and council officers who are referred to as “key stakeholders.”
There are questions about the ability of the existing water and wastewater infrastructures across the district to support such an exponential increase in demand from new builds considering severe water restrictions were introduced across the district by council for the existing population on November 20, 2017 due to lack of rain.
Concerns have also already been raised about the ability of all sewage treatment plants to process an exponential increase in waste water especially the Levin Sewage Treatment Plant because it is situated so close to Lake Horowhenua. An inability to process waste water would inevitable have an effect on pollution levels affecting Lake Horowhenua which is already classed as one of the most polluted lakes in the country.
Public consultation on proposed changes to District Plan rules on urban density is just one of four major and very important consultations happening in the first half of this year which raises serious questions about the integrity of the consultation process.
Council also plans on consulting ratepayers and residents on the draft 20 year Long Term Plan (2018-2038), draft Levin Town Centre Strategy and draft Growth Strategy. According to a council officer in the strategy department the draft growth strategy supersedes the 2008 HDP. Only council and land developers were involved in developing the 2008 HDP and projects included in the 2008 plan continue to be rolled out despite plans to consult the public on a draft growth strategy early this year.