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Hamilton, Waikato And Waipa Future Proofed For Growth

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
John Key
John Key

Prime Minister John Key has today launched Future Proof, a new strategy to manage growth in the Future Proof area, which includes Hamilton City, and Waikato and Waipa districts. Kiingi Tuheitia was also in attendance at the launch in Hamilton as a supporter of the strategy which has involved tangata whenua as a key partner.

With the sub-region's population set to almost double in the next 50 years, Future Proof covers a wide range of issues ranging from land use to cultural issues.

The strategy's recommendations include:

* Increasing housing density in existing residential areas, preventing urban sprawl and protecting farm land

* Discouraging retail developments which undermine the urban hearts of Hamilton and surrounding towns

* Developing Ruakura as a high tech "innovation precinct", with provision for industrial land at Hautapu and the airport

* Seeking opportunities to promote Kiingi Tuheitia's base of Ngaruawahia as the Waikato's "cultural capital".

Future Proof has been developed jointly by Hamilton City Council, Environment Waikato and the Waikato and Waipa District Councils, and tangata whenua. Also involved in the project are the New Zealand Transport Agency and the Matamata-Piako District Council in a support role.

Speaking for the partners, the project's implementation management group chair Bill Wasley said the launch of Future Proof marked a major milestone as councils and agencies sought to front foot the issues associated with growth.

"It's estimated that the population of the Future Proof area will be nudging towards the half million mark over the next fifty or so years.

"Future Proof aims to ensure we have the housing and infrastructure in place to manage this growth, without compromising the sub-region's natural beauty and its strong rural character and economy."

Mr Wasley said the strategy provided a framework for ongoing co-operation between the Future Proof partners. "This will ensure the costs and resources required to fund and manage infrastructure such as transport, wastewater, stormwater, recreation and cultural facilities are provided."

He noted that the development of Future Proof had played a part in the Government's recently announced decision to significantly boost funding for the Waikato Expressway.

"That's a sign of how important it is for us to demonstrate we have a common vision about the way we develop infrastructure in the sub-region," he said.

Future Proof covers four main areas: residential development and settlement patterns; rural land; business and industrial land; and, retail and commercial development.

The aim of the strategy is to create more compact urban areas, based around a strong and vibrant heart in Hamilton and around existing rural townships and villages. "In general, residential development will be focused on areas where residential areas already exist," Mr Wasley said.

In order to protect productive rural land, dispersed ad hoc development will be discouraged and there will be tighter controls over rural residential development, with a focus on encouraging it in proximity to existing settlements. Business and industrial land would be set aside to meet the future needs of the sub-region.

Large scale "dispersed retail areas" would be discouraged where they "undermine the city heart" and town centres. Commercial activities will be encouraged to maximize the use of existing areas and facilities.

Future Proof's strategies will be implemented through a range of processes including Environment Waikato's Regional Policy Statement, city and district council district plans and growth strategies, the Regional Land Transport Strategy and tangata whenua plans and strategies.

"Developing Future Proof has been a very challenging initiative but one that has seen all partners co-operating extremely well to bring us the strategy we are launching today.

"My experience of that co-operation makes me very confident that the sub-region will manage growth well. It is crucial we get it right to help us all prosper economically and culturally well into the 21st century."

An overview of Future Proof is available at www.futureproof.org.nz

Media contacts:

Karen Bennett, Environment Waikato, 07 859 0922 or 021 791 995

Christine Watson, Hamilton City Council, 07 838 6509 or 021 791 264

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