Horowhenua Development Tsunami

Housing development under way in Levin — where growth is extolled above all

Developers’ dream ahead in Horowhenua…but not for ordinary folk

By Veronica Harrod

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.

The Trust 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.

Will Council property go?

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

Horowhenua District Council’s HQ in Levin — at the centre of the development frenzy

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.”

Financial benefits from quake rules

 Mr Grainger also referred to the financial advantages of earthquake-prone priorities adopted by council.

He said: “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.

Housing ‘explosion’

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.

Another huge problem is the how council CE’s award contracts and who they appoint as staff, particularly in the planning department as few developments get notified under the Resource Management Act. There are two particular staff members in the KCDC who I have big concerns about.

Thanks for your feedback Mandy. There is a conflict of interest registrar that all council’s require but getting to see that can be a problem. Also, while doing general research (and unrelated to the specifics of what is unfolding in Horowhenua), I noted the Serious Fraud Office website states New Zealand does not have a legal definition of corruption! Go figure. It might help to explain why the country consistently scores highly on the annual Corruption Perceptions Index report done by Transparency International. I am going to send an email to Justice Minister Andrew Little as surely the country should have a legal definition of corruption.

I think it would be prudent if all these councillors were first thoroughly checked for conflicts of interest. I suspect there are many.

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