An initial round of consultation has opened regarding the Heretaunga Plains Urban Development Strategy – 2015-2045. You have until January 15th to get your views in.

This planning exercise, jointly conducted by the Napier, Hastings and Regional Councils, will carry into next year, and is intended, ultimately, to drive appropriate revisions to formal district and regional plans.

Three preliminary growth scenarios are being “road-tested” in the current exercise. All are based upon a common set of assumptions about existing land use, projected demographic trends (e.g., age and ethnic composition, household size, etc), economic growth, environmental considerations, and other factors.

The study area covers the Heretaunga Plains including the small rural settlements on the fringes such as Maraekakaho, Puketapu, and Paki Paki. The coastal settlements of Waimarama, Ocean Beach, Te Awanga and Haumoana also fall into the study area as does Waipatki on the northern boundary.

The three scenarios are too complex to summarize definitively here. But in simplest terms …

  • Option 1 involves carrying on as we are, continuing to expand outwards on the edges of our existing settlements;
  • Option 2 involves some consolidation while allowing some growth off the Plains (on the hills);
  • Option 3 involves intensive development within the existing urban boundary.

All of the options, the background papers prepared on growth assumptions, and details on the entire planning process are presented on the project website.

If nothing else, you should read through the four-page briefing newsletter, which includes a submission form (download here). You can also give your comments online here.

I urge you to send in your views. This is your opportunity to address the balances you would like to see our Councils strike as they stipulate future rules that will determine our region’s growth and land use patterns; our approach to urban design and meeting our housing needs, our commitment to protecting valuable soils, ecosystems and landscapes; and our commitment to sustainable lifestyles.

Pretty important stuff, don’t you think?!

Taking aboard this round of consultation, the planning group, chaired by Mayor Barbara Arnott, will evolve a preferred scenario and a draft Heretaunga Plains Urban Strategy that will be presented for a final, formal round of public consultation next March/April.

But that will be awfully late in the game to have much impact. Once a scenario is blessed by the three Councils for final consultation, it will have heaps of momentum behind it. This round is the time to get your views in.

For what it’s worth, I’ll do a post or two in coming weeks flagging issues I think are most critical. Stay tuned.

Tom Belford

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