“Protect the plains” welcome news
Acting Mayor of Hastings Sandra Hazlehurst has undertaken to join the fight to save productive horticultural land from development into housing.
Debate has raged for decades on the Heretaunga Plains, with the Hawke’s Bay Fruitgrowers’ Association (HBFGA) and Pipfruit NZ (now New Zealand Apples and Pears) lobbying year in and year out to protect this valuable limited resource.
Hawke’s Bay Fruitgrowers’ Association president Lesley Wilson is thrilled the Hastings District Council is supportive of protecting horticultural land, but delivers a word of warning: “We still hold concerns the devil will be in the detail, but it is starting off on the right foot, acknowledging the land is precious and it needs to be protected.”
Sandra is unequivocal in her support of protecting the land. “I just get it; we need to be more pro-active to meet the needs of urban development and housing. We are united with HBFGA in understanding how important it is to preserve this land.
“Look at Pukekohe, once it has gone, it has gone.We need to be smart and forward thinking here in Hastings.”
HPUDS UNDERPINS GOOD INTENTIONS
Balancing the needs of land users and urban growth resulted in the development of a growth strategy in 2010. The Heretaunga
Plains Urban Development Strategy (HPUDS) sets out a blueprint for urban growth for Hawke’s Bay from Whirinaki in the north to Waimarama in the south, covering the period from 2015 to 2045. It sets out to protect the productive value of the Heretaunga Plains soil and water resources, and promote their sustainable use.
The direction for development through to 2045 relies on Napier and Hastings having defined growth areas and urban limits, balancing higher density housing with the provision of some lifestyle properties. Historically, new housing developments involve moving onto virgin land and taking it out of circulation for producing food. Planned housing growth under HPUDS would transition to a new reality up until 2045 according to the following growth pattern:
• 60% intensification.
• 35% greenfield (turning paddocks into houses).
• 5% of population in rural areas.
Every three years HPUDS is reviewed to see how the actual compares to the strategy. The 2016 review found rates of population growth had been underestimated, mainly from migration within New Zealand. The updated figures assume housing will need to be found for an additional 10,610 people between 2015 and 2045.
“We didn’t have enough land for supply to cope with increased migration from Auckland,” Sandra says. She admits it is a balancing act with the aim of growing a resilient economy, while protecting the unique production capability of the Heretaunga Plains.
For Hawke’s Bay Regional Councillor and former Pipfruit NZ chief executive Peter Beaven, the move toward intensification is not going fast enough. In March he wrote to the local newspaper, voicing frustration at yet another approval for a housing development on productive land in Howard Street, Hastings. He says the supply of sections for greenfield development already well exceeded requirements even before the Howard Street subdivision was taken into account.
The HPUDS goal of having 60% intensive housing development within existing boundaries by 2045 is compelling. However, to wait until 2045 to get there is unacceptable, with a further 10% of valuable Heretaunga Plains lost “under concrete and bitumen”, he says. HPUDS have set intensification targets to assist the transition from a greenfield approach to intensive housing development. Sandra is up front about the council’s need to find housing solutions. “We need to grow up rather than grow out on our valuable fertile Heretaunga Plains and provide innovative housing solutions to decrease urban sprawl and greenfield development. We understand that Hawke’s Bay is the best place in the world to grow apples.”
Hawke's Bay grows 70% of all the apples in New Zealand and in the next few years that will equate to $700 million dollars being poured into the Hawke's Bay economy, providing a resilient economic base. The New Zealand pipfruit industry has, for the second time in a row, been voted the world's most internationally competitive industry.
World food demand will increase by 50% by the year 2050. “Our region, with its exceptional growing conditions, is ideally placed to contribute to meeting this demand.”
In reality, to minimise the impact of urban sprawl on fertile land this means:
Encouraging medium density housing in the suburbs.
Inner city redevelopment to allow for inner city apartment living.
Identifying areas on less productive soil for greenfield development.
Sandra is confident people will choose to live in and near the city, if the city is an attractive, well planned and safe place to live. In turn this will create a stronger central city economy.
REVITALISE CENTRAL HASTINGS
“We take it seriously, trying to encourage more people into the inner city,” she says. “We are supporting developers with first floor heritage space to turn this into quality apartments; we want to provide more green spaces, with easy access for walking and cycling; in short we want to provide an attractive place to live.”
Financial incentives have been established to reduce the cost of development for in-fill housing around the city in the last year.“We are making it easy for developers to make alternative solutions.”
The city centre faces challenges common to many CBDs in the modern age. With more than 50% of the New Zealand population shopping online, keeping the inner city healthy is a challenge. “The 21st century has dramatically altered the
way we view our towns and cities. Technology has forever changed the way we live, work and interact with others. Cities throughout the world now face extraordinary challenges to maintain their relevance.”
People are being encouraged back into the centre of Hastings by focusing on new green spaces, pocket parks, better traffic and pedestrian flow, better lighting, and by making it safer. “Our goal is to enhance the experience of those visiting and living and working in the central city.”
HPUDS provides for the development of 860 sections in the next two to three years. Of these sections, 360 are in the Irongate triangle. “We are working with residents and developers to bring this online.”
Areas with poorer soil types are being sought for future development that isn’t going to impact on the valuable Heretaunga Plains resource.
She acknowledges that the council has been under pressure from fruitgrowing lobby groups, Pipfruit NZ and the Hawke’s Bay Fruitgrowers’ Association for a very long time. “We need to be more pro-active to meet the needs of urban development and housing.”
Lesley says the HBFGA has been playing the long game. Year in and year out the HBFGA submit to the Hastings District Council and fight against plan changes that allow the good Heretaunga Plains soils to be put under houses. “The Hastings township was started on some of the best soils in the world and the map clearly shows we are running out of it. The dark areas are Class 1 soils, less than 5% of the soil worldwide is Class 1.” Lesley says HPUDS has been a double edged sword,while it uses a consultative process to plan future growth, this sends a message to developers and investors who immediately buy up the land earmarked for development and in some cases then land-banked, effectively taking it out of the system. “The HBFGA is not against development, we worked with council to develop HPUDS 2010 for the best outcome for everyone, we only want to save the highly productive soils of the Heretaunga Plains.”
Benchmarking means that growers can use the export version of the NZGAP programme to obtain a GLOBALG.A.P. certificate to meet their customer requirement in export markets.
GLOBALG.A.P. offer the benchmarking programme to enable local GAP schemes to use the GLOBALG.A.P. framework in their local countries. Other GAP schemes that use this process include Red Tractor in the UK, Freshcare in Australia.
The benchmarking process happens every four years and involves a side by side comparison of the NZGAP and GLOBALG.A.P. standards.
Equivalence means that the standards have the same outcomes, enabling NZGAP to be used to gain GLOBALG.A.P. certification.
This approach has a number of advantages for growers.
Because GLOBALG.A.P. is used in around 100 different countries, it is written in a generic way and includes a lot of detail about how the standard is met.
NZGAP sets the same standard (there are no shortcuts) but does it in the context of New Zealand horticulture by using language that relates to our industry. For example, referring to programmes like Agrecovery, GROWSAFE, so that growers know exactly what we are talking about
The NZGAP checklist is also more efficient and asks far fewer questions to get to the same point. Work is in progress to launch new guidance documents to go with the standards to ensure the guidance correlates with the checklist and is easier to use. A new and improved system will be launched later this year. Growers that are certified to the NZGAP GLOBALG.A.P. programme gain a GLOBALG.A.P. certificate and a GLOBALG.A.P. number (GGN). This information appears in the GLOBALG.A.P database alongside all of the other GLOBALG.A.P. certificates for overseas customers to view.
In GLOBALG.A.P.’s eyes, all GLOBALG.A.P. certificates are the same. There is no difference in the status of one type of certificate vs another.
The NZGAP benchmarked programme is a fantastic scheme and offers growers a relevant and efficient way to gain GLOBALG.A.P. certification. We strongly encourage export growers to look at the NZGAP programme for their certification.
Market certification is complex and our advice is always to ask your exporter and marketer about the certificates that you need for the markets you supply.
NZGAP will be distributing the updated documentation to growers over the coming weeks.
Growers wanting to explore this option can find out more by visiting the NZGAP website www.nzgap.org or contacting the NZGAP office on 0508 467869.
HPUDS Development Strategy outlined.
Acting Mayor of Hastings Sandra Hazlehurst speaking at the Hawke’s Bay Young Fruitgrowers’ Awards dinner in Napier: She said the vital role played by horticulture in the region is recognised.