Residents, businesses, landowners, and young people are being urged to have their say on an updated 30-year growth management strategy for the Waikato region that looks beyond the usual territorial council boundaries.
Future Proof is a 30-year growth plan for the Hamilton, Waipā, and Waikato subregion. The plan, which first emerged in 2009, has now been updated by an extended group of partners including the central government.
Waikato District Council, Hamilton City Council, Waipā District Council, Waikato Regional Council, tangata whenua, central government partners, and Tamaki Makaurau partners (iwi and Auckland Council) released the updated version of the plan this week.
It takes into account the growing importance of the Hamilton to Auckland Corridor Plan and the rapidly growing Hamilton-Waikato metropolitan area, providing a planning blueprint for the wider region.
It also factors in key government initiatives such as the National Policy Statement on Urban Development (NPS-UD) and the Government's Urban Growth Agenda. Both initiatives have a strong focus on housing.
The independent chairman of the Future Proof Implementation Committee, Bill Wasley, says the updated draft strategy is a model for local government, iwi and government agencies to work collaboratively and ensure growth is well-planned.
"This is beyond territorial boundaries. In a planning sense, we simply can't think like that any more. It's about actively collaborating to determine how we want the wider region to develop and grow. This strategy provides a framework to manage growth in a staged and co-ordinated way and to address complex, cross-boundary planning, infrastructure, and environmental issues."
Developers, residents, businesses, and young people need to know what Future Proof is proposing and provide their feedback, he said.
"The work we have done shows there is more than enough land in the wider region for development; the land is not the problem. The challenge is servicing that land and providing infrastructure in an affordable way so the land can be developed to provide different types of housing, including far more affordable housing," Wasley said.
"To get well-functioning settlements in places where we most need them, we need to take a wide range of issues into account, including the health of the Waikato River, climate change, transport links, and community services," he said.
"We can't just keep allowing greenfield developments; our communities and our environment can't afford it. So this updated strategy is proposing a number of changes to drive growth to where we most need it."
The strategy sets out a settlement pattern for how and where growth will occur in the subregion. It has been updated to reflect the latest development demand and supply figures, which indicate there is plenty of suburban lands to meet demand. It also includes criteria to help determine out-of-sequence or unanticipated development.
Waikato Regional Council chairman Russ Rimmington said for the wider Waikato region to grow and thrive, local government partners, government, and iwi must plan and act collaboratively.
"Growth simply cannot be 'allowed' to happen without considering the wider picture. We need a strategically aligned, boundary-less planning approach to how and where growth happens across the subregion," he said.
"And it's not just about infrastructure, Future Proof is much more comprehensive and much more complex than that. There is a range of factors to be taken into account, including environmental factors which must be actively managed.
Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate said the updated strategy indicates that in Hamilton, at least 50 per cent of growth will be through the regeneration of existing parts of the city.
"The Future Proof strategy very clearly reflects what government is directing growth cities like Hamilton to do. We have a national housing crisis and change is needed if we are to provide different types of housing to meet different lifestyles. That includes more affordable housing and not just in the city," Southgate said.
Waikato District Mayor Allan Sanson said in his district, about 90 per cent of residential growth would be focused in Tuakau, Pokeno, Te Kauwhata, Ohinewai, Huntly, Ngaruawahia, Raglan, and various villages.
"There is also a very strong emphasis in the updated strategy on the Hamilton to Auckland Corridor Plan which is absolutely correct, given how hugely important that corridor is to our district and to the wider region," Sanson said.
"We've also put provisions in there to ensure our river communities like Ngaruawahia and Huntly are well connected and have good public transport links into Auckland to the north, and Hamilton to the south.
Waipā Mayor Jim Mylchreest said about 90 per cent of Waipā residential growth will be within the urban areas of Cambridge, Te Awamutu and Kihikihi. Much of Waipā's new industrial growth will occur at Hamilton Airport, in the Waipā district.
"The strategy sets a blueprint for growth that reinforces our existing settlements and in doing so, protects the rural character of our district. It also signals a much-stronger investment in public transport to increase accessibility between Hamilton, Cambridge, and Te Awamutu," Mylchreest said.
"The fact is that plenty of people work in Hamilton city, but return to live and play in our district. That is unlikely to change given forecast growth and given Waipa is known as a great place live and raise families."
The updated Future Proof strategy includes seven "transformational moves for change", including enhancing the health and wellbeing of the Waikato River, a "radical" transport shift to a multi-modal transport network, and more quality, denser housing options to increase housing affordability and choice.
Success measures include a reduction in transport emissions, a long-term improvement in housing affordability across the subregion, greater choice and uptake of public transport, and a more prosperous local economy.
Feedback on the updated Future Proof strategy is open until November 12, with public hearings likely to be held in December. Those wishing to make a submission should go to www.futureproof.org.nz.