District looking to open new growth areas as developers pounce

Waikato has leapt over the capital city to be one of the highest growth councils in the North Island and the mayor reckons it's going to bolt again.

Latest Statistics New Zealand figures on Waikato District's growth show 849 new building consents issued in the year to November 2016 - 55 percent up on the previous year and double the number of consents issued three years ago.

The district slips into fourth spot behind Auckland (10,137), Tauranga (1704), and Hamilton (1245) to cement the three points of the economic golden triangle - the growth phenomenon touted as a major factor to Waikato's growth.

In the same 12-month period to December 2016, Wellington issued 751 new building consents.

New homes on the horizon are expected to see the district's population increase from around 70,000 to nearly 90,000 by 2031 but Waikato District Mayor Allan Sanson said he now sees that as a conservative estimate.

"I think where we have come in the last three to four years - we've seen an increase of nearly 4000 people - I would suggest those figures are already outdated and we are looking, with current growth rates that are increasing, we could hit that number in eight to nine years," Sanson said.

Affordability is a major factor. 

December 2016 QV figures show the average property value in Waikato is $429,013 - up 24.6 per cent on the previous year. Compare that to the average million dollar price tag in Auckland, more than $500,000 in Hamilton and more than $600,000 in Tauranga and growth areas such as Pokeno in the district's north are looking good.

People are moving south from Auckland and north from Hamilton for a bit more space and good access to the three cities, Sanson said.

"Developers have got that much confidence at the moment. We're trying to work with them to make sure they have the appropriate consents through in good timely fashion."

But it's not just Pokeno at the foot of the Bombays getting all of the attention. Te Kauwhata is kicking ahead with more growth. Areas in Tuakau have been rezoned, the Rangitahi Peninsula development in Raglan was signed off in 2016, Ngaruawahia has more development coming, Ports of Auckland have committed to an inland port at Horotiu and Huntly is turning heads.

"We planned for about 1200 new houses in Te Kauwhata and we've had a developer come in there, they want to do a private plan change and they are well down the track in their thoughts, and want to build another 1300 or 1400 houses on top of that again," Sanson said.

"We're in the process of looking to rezone a bit of land north of Huntly as well for the same purpose because we are struggling like hell at the moment for additional zoned land."

That level of interest throws up concerns for infrastructure and so work will begin later this year on the district's water storage capacity including connecting the Huntly and Ngaruawahia water plants for security of supply.

"We are planning in advance but it still takes time to physically get the works done."

Future infrastructure needs will be covered by development contributions - making growth pay for growth, he said.

"This stuff doesn't happen overnight and it costs a lot of money so we have go to maintain a synergy of smaller increases of cost and the affordability for our current ratepayers."

From Stuff.co.nz