Growing pains and gains 

The Waikato Expressway is future proofing road transport around Hamilton – but the growth strategy also looks at public transport and accessibility between Waipā and the city. 

‘We can’t just keep allowing greenfield developments; our communities and our environment can’t afford it.’ – Bill Wasley.

A 30-year growth strategy for Waikato has been released for the public to comment on.

Future Proof is a 30-year plan for the Hamilton, Waipā and the Waikato sub-region.

It takes into account the growing importance of the Hamilton to Auckland Corridor Plan and the Hamilton-Waikato metropolitan area.

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 and are prompting councils to look at growing up rather than out – much to the chagrin of existing homeowners.

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.

Waipā mayor Jim Mylchreest said approximately 90 per cent of Waipā residential growth will be within urban areas of Cambridge, Te Awamutu and Kihikihi. Much of Waipā’s new industrial growth will occur at Hamilton Airport, located in the Waipā district.

“The strategy sets a blue-print for growth that reinforces our existing settlements and in doing so, protects the rural character of our district. It also signals a much stronger investment in public transport to increase accessibility between Hamilton, Cambridge and Te Awamutu,” Mylchreest said.

“The fact is that plenty of people work in Hamilton city but return to live and play in our district. That is unlikely to change given forecast growth and given Waipā is known as a great place live and raise families.”

Feedback on the updated Future Proof strategy is open until November 12 and public hearings are likely to be held in December.

For more details go to www.futureproof.org.nz

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