By Hamilton City Council Chief Executive Richard Briggs.
One of the great things about an election year is how it generates public discussion and debate.
In one of New Zealand’s fastest-growing cities, it’s no surprise the costs, impacts and benefits of growth is a hot topic.
Let’s be clear on one thing: saying ‘no’ to growth in Hamilton simply isn’t an option. As more people and businesses flock to our city, your Council is required to enable development. It’s not about growth at all costs, it’s about long-term strategic planning to ensure our investment is in the right place at the right time.
Hamilton City Council’s pre-election report laid out some of the key challenges our city’s leaders will be considering in coming years. Producing a pre-election report is just one of the things councils are legislatively required to do. Delivering a long-term plan and an infrastructure strategy are others. We also must plan for and enable growth.
The Resource Management Act says we must ensure enough development capacity for housing and business development to ‘meet the expected demands of the district.’ Other legislation says we must promote the social, economic, environmental, and cultural well-being of communities in the present and for the future.
We don’t have a choice about enabling growth. But we have choices around where we grow, how we fund it, and who we partner with to assist us.
Our partnership with Government in the Housing Infrastructure Fund is saving $65M in interest costs. NZ Transport Agency subsidies for the Peacocke development total around $110M. Developers are paying contributions towards the costs of opening the Peacocke area and other growth cells around the city. We’re looking at how we co-fund new developments to reduce the impact on existing ratepayers. Funding the Council’s costs through long-term debt means future Hamiltonians pay their share of the infrastructure they use.
Enabling growth is expensive, but it’s a long-term investment in Hamilton’s future.
Delivering infrastructure in a way which considers the whole city is vital. If we don’t do it, developers will. This could lead to a patchwork of strategic infrastructure with limited connectivity, reduced benefits of scale and expensive re-development in the future.
The 12 months to June this year has seen the most housing growth in Hamilton for a generation, with 1552 dwellings approved for construction, the most since 1974. In the 10 years between 2018 and 2028 we expect to welcome 21,000 new Hamiltonians to our city, and we’ll need an extra 12,500 homes. This brings vibrancy, jobs and money to our city.
Our role is to enable this in a way which looks after current and future Hamiltonians. We’re planning for, and supporting communities and neighbourhoods which have the services, community facilities and transport options to create healthy social environments.
Hamilton is a city on the rise. Planned, sustainable, quality growth is key to the wellbeing of our residents as that rise continues.