Growth threatens backyard cricket

By Lawrence Gullery

The days of being able to play backyard cricket in homes around Hastings and Napier may be coming to an end as pressure comes on to encourage urban growth to develop upwards, instead of out across the Heretaunga Plains.

Hastings District Council is entering the second part of a study looking at how it can encourage medium-density housing to consolidate urban dwellings within the city boundaries.

The move is also a trade-off to prevent residential development from occurring over the Heretaunga Plains, which is vital to the viticulture and agriculture economies of the region.

Statistics New Zealand figures for Hastings and Napier between 2016 and 2031 predict a 15 per cent increase in the number of "couples without children" families.

There are tipped to be fewer two-parent families and, as a result, more single-parent families in Hastings district. Family households are forecast to increase slightly but there will be more single people living in homes in Hastings.

The council said the changes reflected a "decreasing household size" and it needed to plan to meet the trend. It could mean single and double-storey detached and semi-detached housing formats of two bedrooms or more, rather than terraced housing and multi-storey apartments.

Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule agreed that convincing people to live in smaller areas would be difficult but the council's plan was long term, looking out to 2045.

"The quality of these new areas will need to be high with access to services and to things like employment areas and schools," Mr Yule said. "It's too early to say where these areas might go but we are looking at the potential of working with property companies who can do some of the development."

He said the council would look at making changes to its district plan to encourage medium-density housing.

The Hawke's Bay Chamber of Commerce supports medium-density and apartment-style living around the CBD.

Its chief executive, Murray Douglas, said Ahuriri was a good example of a former industrial/residential area which had been transformed into apartment living but Hastings struggled for similar sites.

"There was talk of some of the old motel and hotel sites, or areas around the racecourse. It is possible but land price is high," Mr Douglas said.

The chamber had made a submission to the council's review of the CBD suggesting an initiative to build public parks between the CBD and its fringe, and then building medium-density housing in those areas.

"That way the open space you lose from the traditional quarter-acre property is made up somewhat in public community space," he said.

"It means you won't be able to play backyard cricket like I remember doing when I was a child, but I think those days will come to an end.

"What you can do is make sure there are public parks available to access and all the amenities to go with it."

High-rise living's time not yet

Tremains real estate principal Simon Tremain believes there is still enough land to develop around Hastings before any move to medium-density housing.

"To me, I don't think our population is growing strong enough to warrant apartment living," Mr Tremain said.

"There is plenty of land available in some areas of Hastings but I suppose it just depends on where the council says its boundaries are for residential development."

Mr Tremain said there were about 200 apartments in Ahuriri and, at the moment, there was "plenty of supply but little demand".

Apartment living globally attracted people because of its convenience - they could walk to work, school or shopping areas.

"They don't drive cars around because they can access everything from their apartment. And I don't think New Zealand is like that, Hawke's Bay definitely isn't," Mr Tremain said.

"When you live in a place like Hawke's Bay, you can drive anywhere in 20 minutes, there's no parking hassles, no driving hassles ... people come to live in Hawke's Bay for that reason."

Mr Tremain said apartments usually attracted young professionals or recently retired people.

"We don't have a lot of young professionals. Most people who come to Hawke's Bay are married and want to start a family.

"I don't see this [medium-density housing as] something that is happening within the next 20 to 30 years."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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