Some of Hawke’s Bay’s leading growers and a group of residents are protesting Hastings District Council proposals to develop more residential housing on the Heretaunga Plains.
Earlier this month (Feb 18th) the HDC announced that they would be doing a feasibility study as part of the Karamu Master Plan to develop more residential and industrial land on some of the most fertile soils of the Heretaunga Plains.
Two of Hawke’s Bay’s largest growers, John Bostock and Paul Paynter have teamed up to stop development on this productive land.
Bostock New Zealand Owner John Bostock says he is not against development and building houses but believes there are other places for urbanisation to take place on unproductive soils, without using the country’s most productive land.
“We don’t want concrete and asphalt covering some of the most fertile land in the world. Concrete is a one-way crop, once the buildings are up, you can’t go back. That land will be locked up forever.
“The Heretaunga Plains have driven our Hawkes Bay economy for hundreds of years and will continue to do so, if we continue to protect it.”
Yummy Fruit Owner Paul Paynter says there are so many unproductive alternative areas for building residential houses.
“Three percent of New Zealand’s land is class 1 and the Heretaunga Plains is Class 1. It is absolutely senseless to be building houses on this fertile Class 1 land.
“The Heretaunga plains have the best soils, climate and infrastructure and they’re situated very close to a port, which positions this land as some of the best growing land in the world.”
A former HDC Councillor, Mike Donnelly, is horrified at the pace of the urban sprawl over the Plains since he was on the council.
“This has got to stop and we need to preserve what we have left for the future. New Zealand is an over regulated country, but if there was ever an issue that needs a shake up, it’s this one.”
Richard Gaddum, who has done a small development on some of the steeper, unproductive land around Havelock North, says world-class land on the plains should not be the council’s target as there are many other places to build houses around the Plains.
“Year upon year, urban sprawl is spreading out onto the Heretaunga Plains like a creeping cancer, because it’s the easiest and cheapest option. This is not only taking place on the best land in the world, but it is also having a disastrous effect on the aquifer that is the basis of our future sustainability.”
The whole Heretaunga Plains area comprises of approximately 30,000 hectares. Half of the total New Zealand production of fruit and vegetables is produced from the soils of these amazing Plains.
The Hastings, Napier and HB Regional Council’s Heretaunga Plains Urban Development Strategy (HPUDS) document is updated every five years and identifies areas of urban development over the Plains. In the last 2017 HPUDS, the three councils designated 866 hectares on the Plains (over 2000 acres) for residential and industrial expansion.
“For too long now, successive councils have encouraged and supported unsustainable growth of urban developments across the Heretaunga Plains, little by little creeping over these precious fertile soils that feed the local and International markets, locking away forever these soils from any chance of producing food for export, for our children, for our grandchildren and for generations to come,” says Mr Gaddum.
“We are calling on the council to draw a line in the sand and and say “No More”.
“Protect our most precious resource. Protect our Taonga”.
The group will be presenting their case to council this week in the hope they can re-direct the councils plans to encourage residential development on unproductive land off the Heretaunga Plains.