Changes to policy likely as housing needs soar

TERRI RUSSELL
Last updated 05:00 26/01/2013

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A push for high-density living in Gore could be given the go-ahead next week to meet an increase in demand for houses.

A hearing panel will consider seven of 14 proposed changes to the Gore District Plan and, if given the green light, would be the most significant changes since the plan became operative in 2006.

Relaxing subdivision rules, implementing height restrictions for buildings in the residential zone, and the creation of a new residential zone are among the proposals.

Gore District Council planning consultant Keith Hovell said the changes would offer a more structured approach to solving growth issues in the district until an overall growth strategy was developed.

A growth strategy was on hold until Solid Energy announced its urea and petrochemical development plans, Mr Hovell said.

Solid Energy has interests in the development of lignite in Southland, and commissioners were this week at the company's briquetting plant in Mataura to resume efforts to start production.

"There is considerable uncertainty of the impacts of Solid Energy's developments on housing needs in Gore. There would be a need for temporary housing to build the facility, then the long-term needs," he said.

Mr Hovell would not provide expected growth figures from the potential mining development, but said it would be "substantial".

The location and scale of the proposed mining developments were all factors that needed to be considered, he said. Mining developments in the area would create demand for residential, industrial and commercial land.

Solid Energy spokesman Bryn Somerville said the company still had to make a decision about a preferred site for the urea plant and mine.

He would not comment on the company's plans to house builders and long-term workers because it was too far in the future.

Fonterra and Ravensdown continued to have interest in Solid Energy's briquetting and fertiliser developments, Mr Somerville said.

A Fonterra spokesperson said it had agreed to trial Solid Energy's product from its pilot briquette plant at one of its South Island manufacturing sites, and was waiting for the opportunity to do that, if and when available.

Ray White Gore owner Drew Carran said demand for houses in central Gore had increased, and it was likely to be because of older people wanting to move closer to town. Any properties that went on the market were "pretty sought after", he said.

The hearing will be held at the Gore District Council on January 29 at 9am and is open to the public.

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