No, it’s not a new virus or government agency.

It’s the Heretaunga Plains Urban Development Strategy — the planning process set in motion by Hastings, Napier and Regional Councils to decide the future of development in much of the core area of Hawke’s Bay.

The development scenario endorsed by this process will determine the housing and community development options most of us living in Hawke’s Bay will have over the next thirty years. Commercial and industrial development are addressed as well.

Given the significance of these decisions, you might expect that Councils would be undertaking a substantial public education and consultation process.

Wrong! If you’ve been concentrating on Christmas revelry and holiday relaxation, you’ve missed the boat … unless you get your submission in by this Friday the 15th.

Consultation materials were sent to selected individuals and organizations back in mid-November, with submissions due December 7th. When the Chamber of Commerce and others objected, the deadline was shifted by Barbara Arnott, who chairs the process, to January 15. Happy Holidays!

Meanwhile, all pertinent documents have been posted online at www.hpuds.co.nz

Given the distractions of the holidays, I and colleagues from Baywatch did our best to put together this submission. In it, we express a guarded preference for a development scenario (one of three the Councils have floated) that promises the most compact approach to further urban development, in the interest of maximising protection of our invaluable Plains soils (as well as other environmental advantages).

We urge you to read our submission to get a sense of the issues at stake. Perhaps if you agree with what Baywatch is saying, you might simply send an email this week seconding our submission to Raoul Oosterkamp, the staffer orchestrating this process, or to Barbara Arnott, its Chair.

Apart from offering our substantive views (under duress), here’s what we’ve said about the HPUDS “consultation” process and the accelerated decision-making timetable that our elected leaders are pressing on us …

“…the rationale for undertaking the HPUDS process is largely grounded upon presumed population growth. However, when one examines the projections, virtually all growth is assumed to stem from two quite distinct groups – senior citizens and Maori.

We see no effort made in the HUPDS analyses to examine the unique future housing needs and aspirations of these two different populations. So far, the documents we have seen leave the resolution of Maori housing needs to a process yet to be undertaken within the Maori community. And as for senior citizens, we are aware of no efforts to ascertain directly from the Bay’s seniors their views regarding the types of housing choices they would like to have available in the future … or where.

…Before coming to any final conclusion about preferred scenarios, Baywatch would like to see these further issues addressed.

And in fact, we believe the need for further consultation on issues like these is far more important than adhering to the current arbitrary timeframe for this planning exercise. We have already noted the special need for educating seniors and Maori as to trends and alternatives … let alone seeking informed response. But beyond those two groups, it is ridiculous to expect that the volume of data and analyses released just before the holidays could be adequately assessed in the allotted timeframe by individual residents or any volunteer associations like our own.

Now – at this stage of alternative scenarios development – is the point when adequate breathing space must be built into the planning process, so that underlying data and assumptions can be thoroughly examined (and challenged if need be); more creative examples of and options for smart development can be tabled; additional or different overall scenarios presented; and memberships of interested community groups can be properly educated and consulted.

Promises of later “formal” public consultation do not meet these needs, as the die will be cast once Councils’ staffs and consultants decide on the single scenario they wish to pursue and present to the public … essentially for ratification.

We see no countervailing public need – only a possible political one – for a “forced march” to complete the HPUDS process on the currently proposed schedule. Accordingly, we request that this current phase of consultation be extended, and that all interested parties have the opportunity to weigh feedback more systematically gathered from community groups and interested individuals.”

I realise that many BayBuzz readers are still enjoying (or recovering from) their holidays. But if you have a few moments this week, please take a look at the Baywatch HPUDS submission, think about it, and send an email indicating your views to Raoul Oosterkamp, the staffer orchestrating this process, or to Barbara Arnott, its Chair.

Tom Belford

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2 Comments

  1. Time we thanked Tom,and the BayBuzz support group for their contribution to "Beware of HPUBS"

    Politicians have many agenda's as they shuffle the pack to often avoid public scrutiny

  2. Tena koe

    Re – beware of the HPUBS

    How can an issue that will effect the sustainabilty of land use throughout the motu for the next thirty years, have a submission deadline that is completely unachievable within the time frame [ christmas and holidays ] to the majority of submitters.

    There are several other examples of this unacceptable timeframe, where submitters have had no choice but to rightly request an extension to the submission and consultation process.

    Which highlights the question, are the sneaky buggers attempting to derail the submission process in order to suit their own agenda ?

    The more we ask the questions and demand fair and inclusive consultation with realistic submission and consultation timeframes the better off we are all going to be.

    All the best for 2010

    Rosscoe Brown

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