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Expansion plan making headway

The preferred option for development in the east of Carterton would provide for 1074 new lots. Outline in indicative only. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Carterton could have more than 1000 new houses built if a plan to develop its eastern front goes ahead.

However, the Eastern Growth Area would not be without its challenges, with infrastructure a top priority.

At a Carterton District Council policy and strategy committee meeting on Wednesday, councillors agreed to recommend a draft plan to council that would provide for 1074 lots of sizes ranging from 250-2000m2.

The plan included double the lots of the original East Structure Plan, which went out for community consultation in December 2020.

The original plan had only allowed for 462 lots with a mix of residential densities from 800m2 to 2000m2.

Feedback from 29 submitters had indicated the community wanted a mixture of lot sizes, with provision for smaller lots down to 250m2.

Although developers had not been consulted directly on the plans, mayor Greg Lang said he had heard anecdotal expressions of interest.

“At the end of the day, it’s what we want for our community,” Lang said. “Certainly, the feeling I get is that developers are quite excited by what they are hearing, and they will work with what we want for our community.”

Some councillors raised concerns about flooding risks in the area earmarked for growth.

Booths Creek served as a natural eastern limit to the growth area.

The draft East Structure Plan included a walking and cycling connection to the town centre in a 25-metre-wide buffer zone alongside the creek.

Councillor Jill Greathead said this buffer needed to be wider to prepare for a one-in-100-year flooding event.

“That has huge potential for flooding,” Greathead said. “I’m just wondering whether 25m is enough from that perspective.”

Senior planner Solitaire Robertson said if flood studies indicated a wider buffer was needed, building and resource consents down the line would be affected.

However, she said the width of the zone for recreational purposes was a different conversation.

Interim chief executive Blair King said a larger buffer zone would come with its own set of challenges.

“The more land that you put off-limits, the more challenging it is to go and buy up sections,” King said.

Boffa Miskell urban designer Jos Coolen said the buffer zone was intended as a corridor to walk and cycle in a natural environment.

“For that to serve as a movement corridor, I would say that 25m is plenty of space.”

Coolen said if the corridor was any wider, it might trigger safety concerns, as the zone would have less natural surveillance from the surrounding neighbourhood.

Most councillors agreed on a width of 25m width.

However, Greathead said she would prefer a 100m buffer to prepare for a major flooding event.

Other councillors shared residents’ concerns that the town’s water supply could not keep up with growth.

To address these concerns, council officers recommended bringing forward a study to identify additional water supply.

This study had been scheduled for 2025 in Carterton’s signed-off Long Term Plan.

The council would loan-fund the study to the cost of $286,988 if the work were brought forward.

King said the urgency of the study depended on the rate of growth in the town.

“A repercussion of this being accelerated is the infrastructure is going to be under a lot more stress,” King said.

“If this is a 25-year [development], you’ll be fine. But if there is suddenly a real push for getting 200 to 300 small lot sizes and they have three people in them, then there is going to be a lot more demand on that infrastructure, and this need will come in quicker.”

Housing Minister Megan Woods said infrastructure was a key barrier to building houses.

“The Infrastructure Acceleration Fund is designed to allocate funding to infrastructure projects that will unlock housing development.

The cut-off date for expressions of interest to the IAF was August 18.

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