Plan Change 4 (Tara-Ika) now operative

Published on March 07, 2024

Taraika Master Plan thumbnail image - Artist impression of area.

One of the most significant and transformational urban development projects in our history is a step closer, with the Proposed Plan Change 4 (Tara-Ika Growth Area) to become operative on Tuesday 26 March 2024.

Tara-Ika, a 420 hectare block of land to the east of Levin, enables the development of more than 3,500 homes of different sizes, a commercial area, new parks and reserves and education opportunities.

Mayor Bernie Wanden says, “Our district is growing fast. Our friendly community and beautiful natural back drop are major drawcards, and with a new major highway on the horizon making Wellington more accessible, more and more people are learning Horowhenua is a great place to work and live. Our district needs to build an estimated 330 homes every year for the next decade if we are to meet demand – many of those homes are likely to be built by developers in Tara-Ika. It’s exciting to see work progress and this plan change brings our vision another step closer to reality.”

Horowhenua District Council’s District Plan ensures land use and subdivision is sustainably managed. The District Plan, a requirement under the Resource Management Act (RMA) 1991, sets out how land should be managed to avoid, remedy, or mitigate negative environmental effects.

Tara-Ika has been identified as a growth area since the Horowhenua Development Plan was prepared in 2008 and was previously zoned as Greenbelt Residential Deferred. With growth predictions rising rapidly since that time, Tara-Ika needed to be rezoned to allow greater density of development than what could occur under a Greenbelt Residential Zoning.

Making proposed plan changes operative is the final step in the plan-making process, following public submissions, a hearing, and Environment Court appeal. A now operative Plan Change 4 means that the plan provisions are fully incorporated in the District Plan and provide the framework for future development to commence.

Under Plan Change 4, Tara-Ika is made up of Commercial, Open Space, Residential and Greenbelt zones, each of which has different objectives, policies and rules tailored to the land use and activities in each zone.

Before approving the Plan Change, the desired outcomes for development and the potential impacts of developing in this location were carefully considered. They were explored in the Tara-Ika Master Plan, a comprehensive blueprint for residential growth in Tara-Ika. Preparation of the Master Plan commenced in 2018 and was developed through working closely with the landowners within the area who expressed an interest to be involved.

Our community were invited to give feedback on this proposal at various stages, including engagement on the draft versions of the Master Plan and Plan Change between 10 August 2020 to 7 September 2020, followed by a formal submission period between 16 November 2020 and 1 February 2021. The submission period was followed by a hearing in November and December 2021, which was heard by an Independent Panel of Ministry for the Environment accredited hearing commissioners. 

Council adopted the decisions of the Independent Hearing Panel on 29 June 2022 and publicly notified them on 4 July 2022, starting the period in which appeals could be made to the Environment Court. The appeal period finished on 15 August 2022.

Only three appeals were received on the Plan Change. None were against the rezoning of Tara-Ika, rather focusing on the detail of the Plan revisions. These appeals have been resolved via Environment Court mediation.

Following the Environment Court mediation, the Plan Change 4 operative date of Tuesday 26 March 2024 was set.

The District Plan requirements that apply as a result of Plan Change 4 will help to ensure that future development is:

  • a connected and integrated future-proof development that represents good urban design and provides a high level of residential amenity;
  • encourages a variety in housing choice, including higher density options;
  • a development that utilises low impact, sustainable servicing solutions and encourages walking and cycling;
  • a development which provides facilities and open space to meet the needs of the community;
  • a development that maintains and enhances cultural, heritage, and ecological values of the area.

The development is being built alongside planning for the Waka Kotahi NZTA Ōtaki to north of Levin (Ō2NL) expressway.

To ensure resilient, culturally sensitive and environmentally sustainable stormwater management, Council contractors have been installing critical infrastructure to prepare Tara-Ika for landowners who will develop the area.

Tara-Ika was selected in 2020 to receive funding from Crown Infrastructure Partners (CIP) as part of the “shovel-ready” fund to support recovery from impacts of the coronavirus. These funds have allowed the upgrades to wastewater mains close to the area, and the construction of new sections to the Levin wastewater network.

Subdivisions proposed by landowners will be assessed against the District Plan at the consenting stage, and all dwellings built in Tara-Ika will have onsite rainwater tanks plumbed into household grey water (e.g. toilets).

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