Thursday, April 18, 2024

Hastings looks to future housing plan

Preparatory work is set to begin on planning for potential new housing locations in Hastings, with funding approved for the work at a full Hastings District Council meeting today.

A recent assessment of housing capacity in the Hastings district has shown that while Council’s planning should be sufficient to meet the demand over the next 10 years, it may need some flexibility regarding the timing of future greenfield development.

Currently the Heretaunga Plains Urban Development Strategy (HPUDS) guides Council’s forward planning for housing development until such time as it is replaced by a Regional Spatial Plan, potentially in two to three years’ time.

In the face of the current housing shortage and projected population growth, this preliminary planning aims to equip future councils with information and the ability to be responsive and agile with future decision making, Council said in a statement today.

The structure planning would not involve any re-zoning of land, the aim was to identify and enable sufficient capacity to meet expected demand for housing at the same time as assessing what impact any decisions would have, it said.

Any decisions as to the staging and advancement of capital works would be taken to Council and ratified with full public consultation through future Annual Plan and Long Term Planning processes.

Hastings Mayor, Sandra Hazlehurst said this was a prudent approach to start the planning for the future locations of new housing.

She also acknowledged the deputation from the Save Our Fertile Soils group, which made a short presentation at the start of today’s meeting.

“This group is passionate about protecting Heretaunga’s fertile soils, and we share that passion,” the Mayor said.

“We are not creating new areas for residential development, we are looking at what the most practical and feasible options are for potentially progressing the residential zones that already exist within HPUDs.

“Our spatial planning that we will embark on over the next couple of years is going to be crucial. Since HPUDs was created 10 years ago things have moved on – we need to seriously consider how we balance protecting our valuable soils with the best locations for housing, and the associated essential infrastructure services that come with it.

“For current and future decision making it is about the right home in the right place at the right time.”

To begin the preparatory work, Council today approved a budget allocation of $1.99m from the Landfill Development Reserve.

This reserve was created from the 2020/21 Landfill operating surplus to contribute to future landfill development costs.

Given the more immediate housing pressures, however, this fund will be transferred to a new Growth and Urban Planning reserve, with the aim of minimising the financial impact of this growth and spatial planning work on ratepayers into the next year.

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