Wellington Scoop

2018 to be historically significant for Horowhenua

Press Release – Horowhenua District Council
A raft of projects, plans and strategies that will determine the future of the Horowhenua District will be presented to the public during the first six months of 2018.

Horowhenua District Mayor Michael Feyen says in the past two years Horowhenua has been growing at a faster rate than predicted.

“If we don’t get on with the planning then we’ll be short of housing, tenants will face large rent increases and our schools will become crowded.”

“It’s already difficult to cross Levin’s main street,” he says, “and most of our highway network is classified as high crash rate zone – somethings got to give, and 2018 is the year when we will gain clarity around that.”

Mayor Feyen says the face of our district and towns will change for two main reasons. The expressway and earthquake-prone building legislation which affects all public buildings in Levin, Foxton, Shannon and elsewhere in the district.

“Residents should brace themselves – there will be gaps in our streets in the years ahead.”

“We can’t bury our heads in the sand though. Hopefully, through the Levin Town Centre project we can make the most of a bad situation and create a town centre that our children’s children will be proud of,” he says.

Council Growth Response Manager Daniel Haigh says the news that NZ Transport Agency will carry out its second round of engagement is welcome.
“Realistically, the expressway is six to seven years away – Council will take it into account in the planning along with any improvement in rail services. But we need to act now if we want to help make Levin town centre a more attractive and safer place to be, and if we are to have enough land across the district to accommodate growth.”

Group Manager Strategy and Development David McCorkindale says residents could feel a little bombarded.

“We had a very successful pre-engagement for our 2018-38 Long Term Plan, and you can expect a lot more in the New Year,” he says.

“In the future, people will look back and realise the look and feel of the towns they live in, and the services they have access to, were largely determined by the community in 2018,” says Mr McCorkindale.

What’s planned for 2018?

2018-2038 Long Term Plan: This sets out the Council’s vision and aspirations for the district over the next 20 years. The key issues that will be consulted on include:
After a significant pre-engagement programme with the community during October and November this year, our Long Term Plan is being drafted and audited. Key topics will be updated throughout this process and the public can expect to know more in the New Year.

Why should I care? The Long Term Plan influences what the district will look like in the future. It outlines key decisions about the projects that will be delivered, the levels of service provided, how much these will cost, and how they will be funded. These decisions will determine the level of rates that each landowner will pay over the next 20 years. For those renting, rates are covered by your rent payments.
What’s next? Council will consult the community about the key issues and options in February – March 2018. This will be the opportunity to have your say before elected members make their final decisions about the plan.

Horowhenua Growth Strategy 2040: We are growing faster than at any other time in the past quarter of a century. Because of growth pressures, combined with our projected population increase, Council Officers have being reviewing the Horowhenua Development Plan 2008 and updating it. The Growth Strategy looks out to 2040 and identifies how the district can accommodate the projected population increase and new businesses.

Why should I care? The Growth Strategy will signal where the future growth areas are likely to be and ultimately how the District will change and grow. The new growth areas could involve your land or they might involve your neighbour’s land.
What’s next? Community consultation on the Draft Growth Strategy 2040 will happen in February – March 2018. This will be a chance for you to give feedback on the new areas that have been proposed.
Ōtaki to North of Levin Expressway – second round of consultation: The Ōtaki to North of Levin expressway is an NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) project. NZTA is proposing to build a four-lane expressway from Taylors Road (north of Ōtaki) to north of Levin. It will address a number of issues including road safety and transport efficiency, and result in a bypass of Levin.

NZTA has confirmed the second round of consultation will now occur in February next year.

Why should I care? The proposed routes and interchanges could include your property or home. There are strong links between this project and other projects currently being investigated by Council, particularly the Levin Town Centre and Horowhenua Growth Strategy 2040.
What’s next? Community consultation will be carried out in February 2018 – at this stage no time-frame has been confirmed by NZTA around the decision on a preferred corridor or construction dates.

Levin Town Centre: We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to redefine the future of Levin’s town centre. This is because of factors including the potential expressway, and transportation projects further south already underway or completed, contributing to unprecedented growth in Horowhenua. The project will also look at issues facing the town centre, including changes in retail, and the effects of earthquake-prone buildings. The project’s focus will be identifying the issues, the desired outcomes, and viable options to deliver a vibrant and independent Levin Town Centre to meet the future needs of our community.

Why should I care? This project could include actions that affect your retail property. The project has many aims including improving safety and connectivity and creating a more welcoming space for locals and visitors. If Levin is bypassed our prime retail district will need to attract people off the expressway.
What’s next? In March, 2018 Council will talk directly with business and building owners. In April, there will be public consultation so the final plan developed considers the ideas and opinions of residents.

Earthquake Prone Buildings – Priority Thoroughfares: The new Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Act 2016 ensures the way buildings are managed for future earthquakes is consistent across the country. The Act makes it Council’s role to identify all potentially earthquake-prone buildings within set timeframes, assign an earthquake rating if applicable, and put the information into a national register. The first stage is to identify those buildings that are a higher risk to life and safety – these are known as priority buildings. We identify them by first identifying priority thoroughfares (roads and paths), and this is where we need your help.

Why should I care? We’ve all seen the damage that occurred in Christchurch, Kaikōura and Wellington – and just like those places, Horowhenua is in a high earthquake zone. That means we need to get prepared if we are to save lives when the big one happens. The new law affects all buildings open to the public, such as police stations, schools, libraries and shops. It might affect your building or a building you use and that building may have to be strengthened or demolished.
What’s next? In March 2018, Council will consult with the public to identify thoroughfares with enough vehicle or pedestrian traffic to warrant prioritisation. Once that has been done, all buildings on those routes will be assessed. Then the focus will shift to all other potentially earthquake-prone buildings.

Draft Waste Management Minimisation Plan: Every six years we have to review our waste minimisation plans, we need to hear your thoughts on how we as a community manage our waste and how we can work together to minimise the amount of waste that goes to landfill.

Why should I care? The Plan will determine levels of service in regards to waste and recycling options that are available to you. It’s your chance to influence how we deal with waste and recycling in the District.
What’s next? In February and March next year, Council will consult with the community on the draft plan. There will be an opportunity to talk to your submission, Councillors will then consider the feedback and recommend changes before it is adopted.

Mr McCorkindale says work is also underway on Horowhenua 2040 – the overarching strategic vision of the district and community engagement will occur on this in 2018 as well.

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