Pylon-free vision at cost of $6m

21:26, Jul 22 2013
Matt Smith
COMMITTED TO CHANGE: Developer Matt Smith is paying Transpower more than $6 million to pull down pylons and lay underground cables through his eco-friendly Cambridge development.

A Cambridge developer is forking out more than $6 million to rid his project of power pylons.

St Kilda developer Matt Smith started planning the 200-acre project seven years ago, with a focus on sustainability and community. But the space, which neighbours Transpower's Cambridge substation, is home to three towering pylons, which sit at odds with the vision. So Mr Smith is paying Transpower to remove them and run a 1.2-kilometre cable underground - a project that tops $6m.

"It was a reality for us from day one," Mr Smith said.

"Effectively the undergrounding of these pylons was always part of our overall vision. You couldn't do a subdivision of this standard with those pylons up in the air."

Transpower project manager Glenn West said it was not something that could have been done easily a few years ago, but it was becoming more common as Transpower has adopted a policy of working more closely with developers.

In addition to ridding the neighbourhood of the towers, Mr Smith has made it mandatory to install a solar electricity system and 20,000 litre rainwater tanks.


"We wanted to look at how we could basically control what I call the uncontrollables, which is effectively the price we pay for our electricity," he said.

The St Kilda subdivision calls for 1600-square-metre sections - two-and-a-half times the section size of the average plot in Hamilton. The area will be fitted with 3-metre wide shared walkway/cycleways and wetland areas with 32,000 native trees and plants, a feature Mr Smith hopes will attract native birds.

With changing technology, Mr Smith said the solar cells were efficient enough that residents would not only save money on their own power bill, but power would also feed back into the grid for use in the wider Cambridge community - and the electricity retailers would pay the homeowners for every kilowatt.

The first stage of the development is expected to be finished by late October when 80 plots hit the market. 

Waikato Times