Housing developers encouraged but need 'strong case'

4:38 pm on 4 March 2022

By Maia Hart, Local Democracy Reporter

Marlborough landowners are being encouraged to put forward housing developments, but still need a "strong case," the Marlborough District Council says.


The council last month released its latest Housing and Business Capacity report, which revealed a potential shortfall of 900 homes in the next 30 years.

It prompted Marlborough District councillors to last week approve $150,000 in funding, to enable the engagement of "professional services" to assess and process any land rezoning requests. This funding was subject to approval following annual plan hearings.

Marlborough District Council chief executive Mark Wheeler said this week the council had recognised from the assessment there was enough land in the short to medium term, but landowners were not developing that land fast enough.

He said there were challenges with any new land development.

"There is big money involved in this infrastructure, so that's why it actually takes longer than we would like, it's not a five-minute exercise," he said.

"We try and help as best we can. But it actually sits on them to do the design work. It's high risk, and they have to invest a lot of money, but it can be very profitable."

A report prepared for councillors on the proposed $150,000 funding said the longer-term supply would be assessed through a review of the Growing Marlborough Strategy. A budget for this would be developed for 2023-24.

It said the council had been approached informally by multiple landowners of land currently zoned "Rural Environment" to discuss the potential to rezone their property for residential purposes.

Marlborough District Council chief executive Mark Wheeler says this is not the first time Kaikōura ratepayers have wanted out.

Marlborough District Council chief executive Mark Wheeler. Photo: Chloe Ranford / LDR

The $150,000 budgeted would enable the council to process formal requests faster. Wheeler said council resources, and staff, were already stretched thin, so it was likely they would pay a consultant to take on the work.

"The professional services would involve liaison with the landowner/agent, assessment of the request and any further information required, provision of a recommendation to council on adoption, preparation of a variation, public notification, processing of submissions and further submissions," the report said.

Under the National Policy Statement for Urban Development (NPS-UD) released in 2020, councils were required to provide enough land for urban development.

"There are several developers that are very confident they can prepare a very strong case for us, for a plan variation to rezone more residential land," Wheeler said.

"It's really funding for future. You have to invest in these things, if you don't, you just have an even worse situation with the supply of residential land."

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