An agenda item put forward for sign-off on the 2016 review of the Heretaunga Plains Urban Development Strategy (HPUDS) was whipped off the table at a Hastings District Council meeting this week after councillors countered they had not had enough time to consider and consult on the document.
HPUDS was adopted in August 2010 by the Hastings district, Napier city and Hawke's Bay regional councils and brought together what had previously been separate urban development strategies.
HPUDS 2010 was an overarching policy framework document that took a long-term view of land use and infrastructure and how growth would be managed in the Heretaunga Plains sub-region for the period 2015-2045.
This included such considerations as urban intensification, protection of productive soils and striking a balance between Napier and Hastings for both regions to achieve their objectives.
Reviewed once every five years, the councillors were this week presented with the updated 2016 document (delayed a year due to the 2015 census being postponed as a result of the Christchurch earthquake), that took into account submissions that had been received and then heard in October last year.
Several councillors, however, questioned the lack of time being allowed to consider the comprehensive, detailed document.
Councillor Rod Heaps said he was concerned at the impact of a 41 per cent increase in residential development on greenfield sites proposed.
"As a council we set some guidelines in regards to protecting our soils - it's one of our most talked about issues, but when it comes to HPUDS it's hardly mentioned.
"Where's the planning document for this?
"Hawke's Bay will be a sought-after province for primary production - it's difficult to get a balance - with the economy going well we need more houses but we need to do it smarter to protect our precious soils."
Councillor Simon Nixon also wanted more consideration given, but for the opposite reason.
"HPUDS is designed to preserve the soils of Hawke's Bay but my question is who says that's the best use of those soils?
"It's a view put forward by the growing industry, particularly apple growers, but I think this industry is a primary contributor to deprivation due to low wages and low-value, seasonal jobs.
"I was a grower myself, but the return we could get on something like a factory is significant compared to the same area of land being in apples. A factory employs people all year, 40 hours a day - I would prefer that than having people plucking apples off trees for peasant wages."
Newly elected councillor Damon Harvey was also in favour of delaying adopting the strategy in order to gain more understanding and knowledge of it.
"Since I became a councillor the most approaches I have had from the community have been in regards to residential development.
"A common theme has been is there enough land available, where should the priority areas be, and how quickly are we bringing things to the market."
All of a sudden, he said, the strategy with its extensive documentation was included on what was already a lengthy agenda on Thursday.
He added that none of the new councillors, making up a quarter of the current council, had had an opportunity to thoroughly talk through the issues both among themselves and with stakeholders.
"Some who have made submissions in the past may not feel that they have been heard," he said.
Councillor Bayden Barber said he was concerned about areas for development that had been classed as "reserve" areas such as the Arataki extension.
"I was concerned that it might create an expectation in the community that a lot of reserve areas are okay to be developed but in actual fact there's still a lot of water to go under the bridge before that eventuates."
All the councillors said they did not want to hold up the process, but felt the issues needed more discussion.
At the meeting mayor Lawrence Yule said in light of these concerns the document would be put back on the table and a workshop arranged for councillors to discuss the matter more fully.