The Heretaunga Plains Urban Development Strategy (HPUDS) was formed in 2010 as a joint committee of the Hawke's Bay Regional Council, the Hastings District Council and the Napier City Council.

Its purpose is to manage and accommodate the demand for high density urban development while protecting our region's versatile and fertile productive land from ad hoc urban sprawl.

Projections for development demand and capacity were identified from 2010 until 2045.

Five-yearly reviews to factor in emerging issues such as demographic changes effecting market demand and when and where the pinch points would likely occur are mandatory and could be required more frequently under recent central government requirements.

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The first review was completed in March 2016 and the recent public engagement process has attracted 50 submissions that will be heard by the HPUDS committee on October 4, with deliberations on the following day.

Key findings of review were:

(1) The projected dwelling growth from 2015 to 2045 had increased from 7056 to 9660 new houses. HPUDS consultants Telfer Young's review concluded that the increase could be accommodated within the existing strategy.

(2) Telfer Young identified a lessening demand for the existing larger residential lifestyle sites due to changed market preferences. An emerging demand for much smaller, well located lifestyle lots providing privacy from neighbours was identified.

(3) Consultants EMS Ltd identified that over the next 30 years the 65+, 75+ and the 95+ age groups would almost double, triple and quadruple respectively. Their report stated that retirement units would represent 30 per cent to 40 per cent of all new housing between now and 2045.

(4) Consultants Logan Stone identified ample industrial land to accommodate a real GDP growth of 10 per cent PA, a key driver of this growth being the resurgence of the pip fruit sector.

With the average household occupancy projected to be 2.38 persons by 2045, together with our ageing population, the demand for the larger family homes would decrease.

Market demand will clearly be for increasingly smaller homes and lot sizes.

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Of the 3340 future new retirement units required, only half of these are forecast to be in the traditional villages. An increasing preference for unit title ownership is predicted over the current "licence to occupy" model where residents often forfeit 30 per cent of their original purchase price.

One of the main attractions of the licensed villages is the ability of residents to move from villa to apartment to full care but in reality only 7 per cent of occupants make that final transition.

While HPUDS provides a high level compact development strategy, it is the role of Napier and Hastings councils to implement it.

Both are working diligently to address the immediate supply and demand deficit.

Areas are identified in HPUDS as either suitable or unsuitable for development, plus a third category "Reserve Areas".

The review adds Brookfields in Hastings and South Pirimai in Napier as reserve areas to replace the delay or loss of any sites coming onto the market. Whirinaki and Clive South have been removed from the unsuitable for development category after an assessment by HPUDS consultants Opus.

In its early stages, a senior regional local government leader informed me that he regarded HPUDS as "a crock of worthless old BS" .

Today, I am sure that he would agree that the Heretaunga Plains Urban Development Strategy is an essential long-term planning tool that will prove to be pivotal in securing our region's sustainable social, cultural and economic future.

- Tony Jeffery is a Napier City councillor. He is chair of the Napier City Council RMA Hearings and District Plan Committees and a HPUDS committee member. He is standing for re-election as a councillor in the local government elections.

- Views expressed here are the writer's opinion and not the newspaper's. Email: editor@hbtoday.co.nz