Veronica Harrod reports over 3,900 acres of rural land in southern Horowhenua were advertised for sale less than a week after local body elections.
These had already been earmarked for land and property development by Horowhenua District Council, she says.
The Horowhenua Growth Strategy 2040 adopted by the Council in November 2018 anticipated that land and property development projects “would be largely focused” around Levin and the southern end of Horowhenua.
Ohau, Manakau and Waikawa Beach
The almost 4000 acres, 1580 hectares, of land for sale at the southern end including the Ohau, Manakau and Waikawa Beach area’s, correspond with land identified by the Council for land and property development in the growth strategy.
Surveyors, real estate agents, land developers and landowners were directly involved in assisting the Council develop its 2040 growth strategy.
Council also says, “one of the main roles” of the Horowhenua New Zealand Trust – a charitable trust referred to by the Council as an “economic development trust” – is to manage, “potential development projects” including land and land sales.
Alternative land uses?
In the newspaper advertisement on 17 October real estate company PGG Wrightson said the new owners of 1320 hectares for sale at Ohau and 261 hectares at Manakau and Waikawa area, “may look at alternative land use possibilities and land development”, or as a, “valuable land investment” or, “a blank canvas for lifestyle designers.”
The sale of 1320 hectares at Ohau owned by the Verry Williams Trust is described by PGG Wrightson as, “the largest in size land holding to come available in Horowhenua for a very long time.”
The 216 hectares for sale at Manakau borders Emma Drive, inland from Waikawa Beach, where extensive sub-division development is already happening.
More land development projects north and south of Waikawa Beach are also planned.
Council’s growth strategy identifies 45 hectares of land for sale by PGG Wrightson on the western side of State Highway One at Manakau as, “capable of meeting much of the projected growth for the Greenbelt Residential Zone” because it is “the largest growth area.”
Council’s chief executive David Clapperton said “some cost or rates impact may occur” because it was “likely” this would be the first area to be rezoned.
Rural Horowhenua possesses large swathes of elite soils, Class 1 and 2, which the Government recently signalled an intention to protect from “increasing pressure from expanding urban areas and the growing number of lifestyle blocks,” says Environment Minister David Parker.
“Councils will need to do a full analysis of alternatives, benefits and costs when considering whether urban expansion should be located on highly productive land used for growing food and vegetables and for other primary production,” he says.