South Wairarapa District Council is considering expanding the urban boundaries of Martinborough to allow more housing to be built. PHOTO/FILE

HAYLEY GASTMEIER
hayley.gastmeier@age.co.nz

Martinborough desperately needs more residential land, with real estate agents saying the issue is holding the town back.

It’s therefore not surprising that agents are pleased with South Wairarapa District Council’s proposal to rezone rural land as residential, as the Times-Age reported yesterday.

But they have mixed views on whether the site under investigation is the right place to develop.

The council is considering expanding the urban boundaries of Martinborough to include the plot of land bordered by Dublin, New York and Regent streets, as well as Todds Rd.

Lifestyle property consultant Jeff Barber said the area under consideration was “a very special part of Martinborough” that was iconic for its lifestyle blocks on the town’s doorstep.

While there was no doubt that there was a shortage of residential land, he was certain the proposed area was not right for growth.

It is zoned rural, which means sections cannot be subdivided unless they are more than four hectares.

Land owners could subdivide if amendments were made to the Wairarapa Combined District Plan, which Barber says is “completely outdated”.

But most people lived in the area because they liked the space, he said.

“The biggest concern is if the council changes the whole feel of the place to a point where it becomes urban sections, then it’s going to be a terrible thing for Martinborough, and it’s going to be very short-lived.”

He said the area was relatively small, and there was no surrounding land suitable to “grow into” once it was filled up.

Plus the sections would be pricey, being so close to town.

Barber said developing land bordering Ferry Rd would be a better solution to the lack of sections for sale.

The large paddocks were flat, and stretched out for miles.

Ray White Leaders’ Susan Stephen agreed more land needed to be freed up.

The number of people wanting to move to Martinborough and live there full time was on the rise.

From January to June in 2017 there were 36 residential sales in the town, compared to 24 this year in the same timeframe, due to fewer listings.

“I believe the area [the council] is considering is the correct area and can be developed, as long as the options are open to the land owners as to what they can do.

“But my concern is, do we have adequate sewerage and water?”

Retaining the “atmosphere and feel of the village” was the most important thing for the council to consider, she said.

Jaime Slater and Mel Coleman of Harcourts said the area being proposed “made sense” as it seemed like a natural progression of growth from The Square.

“A lot of people who are employed in Martinborough can’t find homes to purchase or rent in the township as it has grown so desirable, and a lot of people who own within the township have resorted to subdividing their properties to sell off smaller sections to the demand of people wanting their own slice of Martinborough,” they said.

Property Brokers’ Guy Mordaunt said the proposal was “the best idea the council has had in ages”.

“Martinborough desperately needs more land – it’s a big thing that’s holding the place back.”

Martinborough agent Jackie Renwick said there was “definitely” a shortage of sections.

“We’ve sold a few at auction recently and we’ve got premium prices because of the shortage of land.”

Record numbers had been turning up to bid for the sections, Renwick said.