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Blue sky thinking for Featherston

Featherston’s Master Plan proposes two options for enhancing growth in Featherston – including moving the railway station close to the centre of town. PHOTO/EMILY IRELAND

Featherston residents have been invited to do some “blue sky thinking” as to how they envision the town centre looking within the next 30 years.

South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] is consulting with the Featherston community on its Master Plan proposal: which sets out aspirations to enhance urban growth in Featherston and support the rejuvenation of the town centre.

One of the main concepts within the Master Plan discussion document is moving the Featherston Railway Station closer to town.

Featherston has been identified in SWDC’s Spatial Plan as a “growth area” – an area with potential for “more urban development and renewal”.

The Master Plan investigates the potential for development within the town centre, including densifying the area [increasing density of housing on available land] around the railway station.

SWDC is asking Featherston people to provide feedback, through a survey, on two potential options: intensifying housing around the present railway station and the main street; or moving the station closer to the main street and densifying around both.

Russell O’Leary, SWDC’s group manager of planning and regulation, said Featherston’s growing population will likely mean significant changes to town planning – and it was important for SWDC to plan ahead.

“With 1700 people expected to move to Featherston over the next 30 years, some intensification of the town is going to be needed,” O’Leary said.

“Planners generally [intensify] around a main street and public transport is always a big factor.

“Featherston is well served by the train – so, it makes sense to increase housing around the train station as well.”

O’Leary said Featherston’s main street was also central to the plan, and SWDC is keen to hear how residents envision the CBD taking shape.

“We want the street to be thriving, so making it a place where there could be mixed-use, housing and shops for example, should be considered.”

O’Leary said one of the “most important parts” of the Master Plan is the rezoning element: with both proposed options involving a “medium” density zone, allowing sections of 200sqm.

Currently, the minimum within the township is 500sqm.

Both options would mean residents with bigger sections (800sqm plus) could subdivide, something many cannot do at present.

More density in Featherston “can look great if planned and designed carefully”, O’Leary said.

“It would enable more two-storey houses, townhouses, duplexes and apartments. That would be good for older people wanting to downsize or younger people struggling to afford a home.”

SWDC is also asking residents to share thoughts on protecting Featherston’s historic features as the town landscape changes, and how its Māori heritage could be better represented in town planning.

To provide feedback on SWDC’s Master Plan, you can fill out the online survey at swdc.govt.nz

Hard copies are available at the district’s three libraries. SWDC has also organised drop-in sessions for people to talk with a town planner at the Anzac Hall.

These will be on Thursday, August 11, from 6.30-8pm, and Tuesday, August 16, from 5-7pm.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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