Growing Hamilton

Council meeting wrap up – 17 September 2019

Hamilton City Council has had its last full-day meeting ahead of election day on 12 October which may see a new mayor and councillors elected. The inaugural Council meeting will take place on 24 October.

The meeting, spanning 11 hours, saw the Council vote on a range of items.

Prostitution Bylaw

Hamilton City Council decided the current Prostitution Bylaw is the most appropriate means of controlling prostitution services in the city. The Council voted unanimously to retain the bylaw with minor amendments – revising the definition of an early childhood centre and aligning maps to the Operative Hamilton District Plan.

Class 4 Gambling Venue Policy               

The Council discussed whether to retain its existing policy allowing for relocations and mergers, or to restrict relocations and mergers (a sinking lid policy) – meaning if a business removes gaming machines from its site, that same number of gaming machines can’t then be added to another site. The vote favoured retaining the existing bylaw, with seven voting in favour and six against.

An analysis of Council’s resilience to higher or lower growth

The Council is now well-positioned to deal with fluctuations in the city’s future growth patterns, including a repeat of the boom/bust scenario experienced during the Global Financial Crash (GFC) of a decade ago. These findings were illustrated in a report which evaluated varying growth scenarios against the current 10-Year Plan forecast. In all tested scenarios, the Council remained within self-imposed financial limits.

New dwelling consents in the past 12 months are at a 40-year high, meaning Hamilton has an e. The Council is insulated by historic national resilience to global economic changes, the ability to adjust its approach through the 10-Year Plan and Annual Plan cycle, and the nature of its revenue base.

The city is also buffered by its proximity to Auckland and its location within the ‘golden triangle’ of freight movements between Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga, as well as its relative housing affordability compared to its northern neighbour.

Chief Executive Richard Briggs welcomed the report’s findings, noting in the meeting the city’s resilience is further improved by changes to the way the Council delivers its capital programme. Organisational changes last year mean a more holistic approach to capital spend across the organisation, finding efficiencies and economies of scale through the creation of a Development Group, responsible for the Council’s entire capital programme.

Development Contributions

The Council approved the guiding principle of reviewing its Development Contributions (DC) Policy every three years in line with the 10-Year Plan process. This principle is supported by several strategic factors to be considered when reviewing the policy.

The Council was also presented with  an independent report prepared by Insight Economics which reviewed the impact on development of higher DCs in the city.

The report, noted higher DCs from 2018/19 have not affected residential building consents but indicated a reduction in non-residential consents. Feedback from developers also indicated development activity was slowing down, and that DCs were only one contributing factor of many, including significant increases in land price, increased construction and civil works costs, and a tighter labour market.

Hamilton to Auckland Passenger Rail – Puhinui Station Study

It was agreed to allocate $25,000 towards a business case to consider regional rail at Puhinui Station, and request Waikato Regional Council do the same. Puhinui is expected to become a major interchange rail link to Auckland Airport.

Hamilton public transport youth concession

In June, the Council approved a one-year trial of free bus service travel for youth (18 and under) within Hamilton on weekends and public holidays. Since introduced, usage has increased on average by 125% – with nearly 16,000 youth making use of the free trial during July and August. The Council today approved an extension to the trial to also include school holidays.

Waikato Community Lands Trust

Previously, Hamilton City Council approved the establishment of a Community Land Trust with the aim to help individuals and families to gain access to affordable home ownership. The Trust would acquire land, hold the land in perpetuity and work with housing providers to deliver affordable housing. At today’s meeting, the Council approved the Trust Deed to be used to apply for registration as a charity.

Hamilton Gardens Management Plan

The adoption of the Draft Hamilton Gardens Management Plan has been deferred until the Council’s 26 September meeting, pending further stakeholder consultation. A proposal to use the current Rhododendron Lawn for car parking, and recreate the Rhododendron Lawn elsewhere in the gardens, has been met with concerns from some stakeholders who view the lawn as an essential event and recreation space within the wider gardens precinct. Staff will seek further feedback on the Rhododendron Lawn proposal, which aims to address some of the parking and vehicle challenges at the site as the gardens popularity increases. The Rhododendron Lawn proposal is in Stage Two of the developments outlined in the Draft Plan, meaning the changes are scheduled to occur between 2022 and 2024.

Security Guards Contract

The Council voted to increase the minimum wage remuneration for security contractors to $20.00 an hour, in line with the Council’s cleaning contractors and all permanent, fixed term and causal employees. This decision was supported by The Waikato Living Wage Network who spoke in public forum calling for the Council to consider paying the living wage to all contractors.

Other items included:

  • signing a City to City Relationship Agreement with Ieper
  • giving delegation to the Chief Executive between election day (12 October) and the inaugural Council meeting (24 October)
  • approval of the Sale and Disposal of Council Land Policy.

Full minutes are available at www.hamilton.govt.nz/minutes.

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