District Plan a 'missed opportunity'

KAY BLUNDELL
Last updated 05:00 04/04/2013

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A property development group has challenged Kapiti Coast District Council to become more business-friendly or risk losing out on a $1 billion project.

Todd Property Group gave the first insight yesterday into its 10-year "master plan" to create up to 8000 jobs at Kapiti Landing, the business park under development next to the airport.

But general manager property Bryce Morrin said the council's District Plan was hampering development, and preventing the surrounding district reaching its full potential.

Todd's plans include big-box shopping, restaurants and cafes, more than 4000 car parks and the possibility of a gym, hotel and conference facilities.

But the District Plan limits retail development at Kapiti Landing to 10,000 square metres and does not allow certain types of shops, including sportsgoods and clothing, or discount department stores. It restricts retail development mainly in and around Coastlands and Paraparaumu town centre on State Highway 1.

But once the Kapiti expressway is built, traffic is likely to be diverted south of the town centre, and one of its main junctions will be within 800 metres of Kapiti Landing.

Mr Morrin said the District Plan was a "missed opportunity" and represented the "continuation of a heavy regulatory hand", restricting business activity, mainly small retail.

"We are looking to invest a billion dollars in this development over the next decade, creating up to 8000 new jobs," he told a business meeting in Paraparaumu yesterday.

"However, we cannot justify that to our board and shareholders if we cannot get the best rate of return. We are not asking for favours - we simply want to provide the market with what is desired by today's consumers."

Todd Property Group has a 75 per cent shareholding in Kapiti Coast Airport Holdings, including Kapiti Landing. The business park already includes a Mitre 10 Mega, and plans for New World, Kitchen Things and Smith City stores.

"To make these kinds of developments succeed, we need to be able to offer a mix of uses - industrial and commercial backed by retail," Mr Morrin said.

"Given the amount of jobs and spend currently going elsewhere, it is clear Kapiti does not have the right mix."

Coastlands chief executive Richard Mansell said times were tough for retail and, instead of bringing in new tenants, the Todd group was targeting established retailers.

"If they bring new retailers in, all fine and good, but what they are really doing is benefiting the tenant. We need more local employment other than retail."

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Submissions to the council's District Plan closed on March 1 and are being summarised.

Council sustainable development manager Jim Ebenhoh said the summaries would be published soon so people would be able to comment further, and so that plans for more shopping at Kapiti Landing could be considered by commissioners as part of the hearings process.

"It is not too late for people to get involved in the process and make their ideas count," Mr Ebenhoh said.

- The Dominion Post

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