Nats front up for Expressway meetings, but risks ahead for Horowhenua Council
By Veronica Harrod, Horowhenua Correspondent
The land and property development agenda of Horowhenua District Council, and council’s in-house economic development board, could implode if the Transport Agency decides not to proceed with the expressway past Levin.
This demonstrates just how high the stakes are in the land development frenzy in Horowhenua.
Otaki electorate MP Nathan Guy (National) brought along National Party leader Simon Bridges and new Nat. transport spokesman, Jami-Lee Ross, to the second Levin pro-expressway public meeting Mr Guy has organised in the last six weeks.
Mr Bridges, of course, was Transport Minister under the former National Government.
What’s this Guy’s plan?
The motivations of Mr Guy, in particular, are being questioned in light of council’s role in land and property development.
This development is based on a November 2015 Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) report commissioned by the council called, “Investment in transport infrastructure: Effects on economic and demographic outlook.”
A July 6, 2016 council agenda states, “The assessment determined that the Wellington National Corridor investment represents a ‘free hit’ to Horowhenua, and creates an opportunity for the district to target population growth, employment, and economic activity levels significantly higher than both otherwise and previously expected.”
Role of CEO Clapperton
Council’s chief executive David Clapperton, and economic development manager Shanon Grainger have repeatedly used forecast growth statistics in the NZIER report as a justification for rolling out a huge number of land and development projects across the district.
Without the economic justification’s provided for in the NZIER report, difficult questions would be asked of council about its close and secretive relationship with the economic development board, whose members have multi-million dollar interests in land and development and construction industries.
Council draft documents that rely on the expressway proceeding include council’s 20-year Long Term Plan, the Horowhenua growth strategy, 2040, and the upcoming Levin Town Centre Plan.
Mr Guy’s estates
According to the Quotable Values database, Mr Guy also has a significant amount of land and property interests in the north-east sector of Levin at Koputaroa which equates to at least $6 million over eight separate lots. (The sale date of two further purchases he made in this sector is withheld from the Quotable Value database so have not been included).
If the expressway proceeds, this means Mr Guy could potentially benefit either through the sale of land confiscated under the Public Works Act, or land and property development projects on land he owns next to the expressway route.
The game changer
So the future NZTA decision could be a game changer for Horowhenua. Residents could face unsustainable rate rises because of land and property development and zoning changes.
There would also be bad effects on the environment because of an explosion in new builds connected to infrastructure the council says is ‘ageing and end of life’.
According to the council’s documents, there are no plans to consult citizens on an economic development plan — even though the public were also not consulted on the now expired 2014-2017 economic development strategy that continues to be applied by the council.