U-turn on City West thrills landowners

JANINE RANKIN
Last updated 12:00 07/03/2014

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Previously disappointed Palmerston North landowners expecting their City West land to be next in line for residential development in Palmerston North have had their hopes revived.

The No 1 Consortium of landowners has properties on the west of the city that, before the Christchurch earthquakes raised liquefaction worries, were in the city council's preferred location for urban growth.

After the earthquakes, the council decided urban growth should happen at Whakarongo instead, and its resource consent application for rezoning goes to a hearing next month. Pioneer City West has a private plan change application close on its heels, seeking rezoning of 73 hectares for a new suburb at the Longburn end of the City West area.

A report to the council's planning and policy committee this week suggested that if both consents were granted, and both developments went ahead, the council could breach its own borrowing rules paying for infrastructure. That prospect prompted a majority of councillors at the meeting to seek more information about the costs of supporting development to the west instead of Whakarongo.

The request was resisted by committee chairwoman Annette Nixon, who said the prospect was in opposition to adopted council policies and decisions, but she was outvoted.

Consortium spokesman Peter Wealleans said the City West landowners, who supported the Pioneer City West private plan change, were quite excited by the apparent shift in the council's attitude.

"It gives us some hope.

"It is quite a turnaround from what the previous council was saying."

Mr Wealleans said the landowners understood that a zoning change did not mean urban development was going to happen overnight, but it would give clear guidance about what was going to happen in future.

Pioneer City West director John Farquhar has questioned the city council's assertions it would have to borrow $50 million to $60m to pay for infrastructure for the western suburb.

"The private plan change does not involve council spending any money at all.

"They can get 900 houses for free."

He said the design of the Pioneer City West development was very close to what the council had wanted.

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- Manawatu Standard

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