Putaruru responds to meet housing demand
A look at what’s made headlines this week in Waikato community newspapers.
Putaruru is set to get 1300 new sections in a major rezoning exercise that vastly increases the size of the town.
The Putaruru Growth Plan is in response to a dramatic change in fortunes for the small Waikato town with population growth now positive after almost 20 years of decline.
Several rural areas adjacent to the town would be rezoned into a combination of residential, ruralresidential and business zones, if the plan is approved by the South Waikato District Council.
The town is under pressure from those fleeing high property prices in the larger urban centres. Hamilton and Tauranga are both within an hour’s drive. The rezoning is an attempt to cater to the demand for affordable housing and business opportunities.
Statistics New Zealand and Infometrics estimate the South Waikato district’s population has grown by 1.3 per cent over the year to June, 2017. This reverses a trend of population decline that has averaged 0.2 per cent, per annum, since 2000.
The plan proposes areas for rezoning in the Maple Drive and Totara St vicinity, Overdale Rd, an area adjacent to Thornton St and Alexandra Cres, an area adjacent to Arapuni Rd, Golf St, and Lichfield Rd, and an area in the Sholson St and Ruru Cr vicinity. In total more than 130ha could be rezoned.
South Waikato District Council Community Group manager Sam Marshall said 1300 new sections would be on offer to help combat the town’s housing shortfall.
‘‘This is a district that has suffered significant decline and a loss of population and a loss of jobs, essentially for at least 20 years. The reason we are now doing some growth planning is because we are now seeing some changes in that trend,’’ he said.
He said population growth in the area was now on par with the thriving Matamata Piako District.
‘‘From around 2013 to 2016 we have been trending in a very similar way to the Matamata Piako District,’’ he said.
‘‘Over the last couple of years we have seen housing sale numbers triple so this is one indicator among many showing the increased level of demand from people coming and buying houses in the district.’’
He said for the council to achieve its objective of growth for Putaruru it was essential that adequate infrastructure was in place.
‘‘I often talk about housing [working in conjunction with the] opportunity to build a business. If you’re wanting to bring people to live and work here it is actually really critical, you can not really have one without the other,’’ he said.
He said the next step would be for the council to formally adopt the plan which would require use of the Resource Management Act process for a District Plan change.
Months of community and landowner consultation, in partnership with Pride in Putaruru and Putaruru Moving Forward, has resulted in the South Waikato District Council putting together the Putaruru Growth Plan.
South Waikato News
Sugar-free policy push
Councils around the country are being asked to consider a policy which could remove sugarsweetened drinks from public facilities, events and workplaces.
But Matamata-Piako Mayor Jan Barnes said taking away the right for people to choose was not something her council would support.
The council discussed the matter at its meeting recently and decided not to back the policy, which would also be debated at the Local Government New Zealand AGM this month.
According to an LGNZ report, sugar-sweetened beverages are one of the leading contributors of sugar to the diets of New Zealanders.
There is a growing awareness of the connection between sugar and health-related conditions such as obesity, poor dental health and type-2 diabetes.
Hastings District Council has been asked to develop a policy on sugar-sweetened beverages. It could involve a sugar-free drink haven within council facilities and council-run events.
It is supported by six other councils around the country.
The LGNZ report said councils were well positioned to influence the health behaviour of staff, elected representatives and visitors.
Councils could also model good health behaviour for their communities, or set an example, through the development of a sugar-sweetened beverage policy.
But Barnes said it was clear her councillors did not want to take away the free will of people.
‘‘It’s something we want to work on, a policy for what we do have at council-controlled facilities.
‘‘But we felt it was up to the patrons choice if they chose to have, say, a can of Coke.
‘‘We will not be coming down heavy handed on this.
‘‘Are we going to play the police on this? And that’s how I will vote at the [local government] annual conference.’’
In 2013 Nelson Marlborough District Health Board became the first health board in the country to implement a policy which limited sugar-sweetened beverages.
Nelson City Council supported the initiative through its own sugar-sweetened beverage policy.
The suggested course of action is that Local Government New Zealand provides a template and guidelines to help councils develop their own policies.
There was no overall local government policy or position on the matter.
Time is running out for people to have their say on strategies to protect the authenticity of Cambridge.
The region’s councils have joined forces to write a strategy to manage the impact of growth, particularly population, in the Waikato.
It was called the Future Growth strategy, a management and implementation plan.
Specific to the Hamilton, Waipa and the Waikato sub-regions, it looks at how to manage future urban growth in a collective way.
Waipa updated its own growth strategy based on available figures indicating a significant rise in population.
Those figures showed 80 per cent of growth will be within urban areas: 45 per cent in Cambridge, 35 per cent in Te Awamutu/Kihikihi, 10 per cent in rural villages and 10 per cent in the rural environment.
The increase and speed in growth presents a challenge to council to maintain the character of Cambridge.
The Cambridge Community Board is addressing the issue with the yet to be released charter document, which will serve as a blueprint for maintaining the town’s character.
Board chairman Mike Pettit said the charter looks at keeping ‘‘a village within a larger village principle as the town grows’’.
‘‘Things we’re looking at, are the infrastructure elements needed for subdivisions to work for its residents.’’
Some will be mandatory he said, while others will be initiated socially, dependent upon the makeup of residents living there.
‘‘For example, if the makeup of residents is elderly, should the subdivision’s green space have playground equipment or other furniture suitable for residents?’’ he said.
Another item on the strategies agenda relates to transport needs and access.
Pettit confirmed a third river crossing remains on the council’s table as a serious option.
‘‘It comes down to cost and who will pay at this stage. New Zealand Transport Agency doesn’t have the appetite for funding.’’
The development of Cambridge becoming a commercial centre is crucial which in turn addresses future employment issues.
Housing is a priority for the Waipa council which has brought forward the release of the C2 housing block, encouraging a variety of housing and section sizes.
The strategy also addresses how far Cambridge’s urban boundary is permitted to sprawl into productive rural land.
Submissions can be made online at futureproof.org.nz/page/ 101
A meeting of Cambridge Community Board is planned to take place prior to the closure of submissions on July 21.
More and more people are choosing to live in Putaruru as house prices soar in Hamilton and Tauranga.