September 2015

In this issue:


This e-newsletter provides an update on some of the work underway to implement the far-reaching planning strategy launched by Prime Minister John Key in 2009. The Future Proof Strategy identifies where urban development should take place in the Hamilton, Waipa and Waikato districts. An update of the strategy is now underway, with a draft to be released for public feedback in the coming months.

Water quality and quantity 'hot topics'

Water quantity and quality continue to be hot topics for Future Proof and will be looked at closely during the update of the Future Proof Strategy.

Ensuring that planning for the future use of water maintains water quality and promotes efficient use is a key Future Proof Strategy principle.

At the recommendation of the Future Proof chief executives, a Future Proof Water Policy Group is being considered to co-operatively manage water policy issues. There is also a Future Proof Strategy action to establish a technical group to consider water supply issues.

Terms of Reference for the group are still to be agreed by the Future Proof Implementation Committee, which is made up of two elected member representatives from each partner council and a member from the Tainui Waka Alliance and Nga Karu Atua o te Waka. It is chaired by an independent chairperson.

The Future Proof Water Policy Group is likely to focus on three areas – water allocation, the Sub-Regional Three Waters Strategy, and the Future Proof Strategy Update.

If established, the group will sit in the technical part of the Future Proof structure and will comprise representatives from the Hamilton city, Waipa and Waikato district, and Waikato regional councils, and tangata whenua.

It is proposed the group would meet on a monthly basis and report back through the Future Proof structure.

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Waikato's 50 year population growth centred on sub-region

Much of Waikato’s growth over the next 50 years will come in urban populations and be centred mainly on Hamilton, and the Waikato and Waipa districts.

That’s the findings of a new study, commissioned by Waikato Regional Council, which provides regional and local council-level population, household and labour force projections.

The projections show that nearly all the growth over the next 50 years will occur in the Future Proof sub-region. In comparison, all other areas of the Waikato but the Matamata-Piako district will see populations decline by 2063.

Overall the Waikato region shows steady growth with an increase of about 40 per cent over the next 50 years. 

The study, carried out by the University of Waikato’s National Institute of Demographic and Economic Analysis (NIDEA), said the demographic changes would throw up a range of challenges around:

  • responding to the needs and opportunities of an ageing population
  • declining populations in some areas
  • leveraging off Auckland’s growth
  • promoting the region as an attractive place to live and work.

Population growth generally would naturally increase demand for a range of services and infrastructure, particularly transport systems and public services, such as for health, social services and education.

The Future Proof Strategy was launched in 2009 to look at how the sub-region – comprising Hamilton, Waipa and Waikato districts – should develop, and most importantly involves integrated planning to manage the projected growth.

The projections used Statistics NZ’s revised Estimated Usually Resident Populations (EURPs) derived from the 2013 Census data. NIDEA applied a combination of age and gender specific assumptions for the three principal demographic drivers (birth, death and migration rates) to the current base population to project future populations.

Projections are not predictions and represent only possible, albeit plausible, futures. They help to better understand the demographic changes the Waikato faces and underlying sources and factors.

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Cambridge North set to grow

The impending completion of the Cambridge section of the Waikato Expressway means the Cambridge North residential area is set for rapid growth. Cambridge North is a key growth area in the Future Proof Strategy.

Waipa District Council and the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) have worked together to deal with stormwater from the area, constructing an outlet from the Cambridge North swale system under the expressway to a detention pond on the north-eastern side of the new road.

The pond will also drain stormwater run off from the expressway. By sharing infrastructure, the district council and Transport Agency have made savings. Another pond is also likely to be built by Waipa District Council near the Hautapu interchange.

Norfolk Drive will be extended to form a new collector road to connect with Victoria Road just south of the Hautapu interchange. This is expected to be in place by February 2016 and will reduce a large volume of commuter traffic passing Cambridge High School.

With Cambridge experiencing unprecedented demand for sections, the extra 1000 residential lots are expected to be very popular.

Waipa District Council is also experiencing significant interest from companies looking to locate to the northern side of the expressway in the Hautapu industrial node and is working with landowners to facilitate this. The council is currently reviewing the structure plan to ensure there is a comprehensive plan for infrastructure development and that it can be provided when it’s needed.

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Plan underway to support Hamilton's growth

A variation to Hamilton’s Proposed District Plan (PDP) that will enable development to support Hamilton’s future growth is well underway.

Hamilton City Council is preparing a variation to the PDP that would provide the framework for Tainui Group Holdings (TGH) and Chedworth Properties Limited’s proposal to develop an inland port and freight hub, along with medium density residential and research activities in Ruakura.

Ruakura is an identified growth area in the Future Proof Strategy and an important part of the ‘settlement pattern’.

It’s expected the development will create 11,000 new jobs by 2061 and bring new investment to the city. It's estimated the inland port will enable about $4.4 billion of economic growth over the next 45 years.

The variation to the PDP will give effect to the board of inquiry decision made in September 2014, ensuring a consistent approach to managing development across the Ruakura structure plan area and the University of Waikato.

The city council recently asked Ruakura landowners and previous submitters to provide feedback on the draft provisions. The feedback will be used to further refine the provisions before the variation goes out for full public consultation in November 2015.

Following the public consultation period, the council will hold hearings where submissions can be presented to the council in person. These hearings will most likely take place mid-2016.

The hearings panel will make decisions on the variation in 2016. Any decisions can be appealed to the Environment Court.

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Investing in Waikato's transport network

Waikato Expressway -
Ngaruawahia section.

A $1.8 billion programme of investment is planned to be spent in the Waikato on the transport system over the next three years, with a significant proportion of this investment targeted to the Future Proof area.

Announced in June by the Transport Agency, the $13.9 billion National Land Transport Programme (NLTP) for 2015-2018 is a significant one, with a 15 per cent increase on investment compared to the previous three years.

The Waikato share of this investment targets continued economic productivity and growth, improved safety and support for population growth in the region and in the upper North Island economic powerhouse. This reflects the strategic direction set by the 2015 Government Policy Statement on land transport, and local priorities developed by councils in the region’s Regional Land Transport Plan.

A number of key investments will support development and growth within the Future Proof area, and are designed to be consistent with the settlement pattern.

The Waikato Expressway is the backbone of the investment over the next three years, building on recent investments to ensure it is fully open in 2020. The expressway will not only reduce travel times between Auckland and Tirau by up to 35 minutes but improve safety, and reduce deaths and serious injury crashes.  

In addition to supporting growth and making it easier for people to move around Hamilton, investments are also being made in completing the Hamilton Ring Road, extending Resolution Drive to join the expressway, an upgrade at the Hillcrest roundabouts and extending Hamilton’s strategic cycle network.

The aim of these projects is to improve safety and enable significant planned growth in Strategic Industrial Nodes at Te Rapa North, Horotiu and Ruakura.

Almost a third of the project investment (32 per cent) will be spent on improving safety and reducing deaths and serious injury crashes on Waikato roads. Benefit analysis forecasts that the investments made within the Future Proof area in the 2015-18 NLTP could prevent 39 deaths and serious injuries over the next 10 years[1].

High-risk rural intersections will be a major focus in the region with a project planned at Piarere junction, the SH1 turn off to Tauranga (SH1/SH29) and the SH3/SH21 intersection adjacent to Hamilton airport. With partners, the Transport Agency will also continue to target factors that contribute to fatal and serious crashes in the Waikato including speed, drink and drug driving, high-risk driving and not wearing restraints.

The investment in the Waikato represents a partnership approach, with a significant share coming from the Future Proof partner councils. By teaming up with the Regional Transport Committee to help shape the Regional Land Transport Plan, this helps to ensure that investment continues to support the strategic transport corridors needed to support implementation of Future Proof.

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[1] From benefit analysis using data based on forecast benefits as at June 2015, from road improvement activities only.