Horowhenua Economic Development Trust proposed

Published on 08 November 2017


Horowhenua District Council, like many councils, faces a challenge – the Council has acquired more property than it needs, and has to maintain and manage it all.

On Wednesday 8 November, Council’s Strategy Committee will consider a proposal from the Horowhenua Economic Development Board to maximise the return on those assets to aid economic growth throughout the district and provide a return to ratepayers.

Unlike many other councils, we do not own shares in airports and ports, so we don’t have a steady stream of income from investments. However, over the decades we’ve acquired property for a variety of reasons,” Council Chief Executive David Clapperton says.

“Some of it is useful to our community and some of it not so much. Managing property we don’t really need takes resources away from our core Council business, and it is a risk because we’re not professional property managers.”

Earlier this year, Horowhenua District Council gave permission to Council Officers to investigate the establishment of an Economic Development Trust. It is Council’s intention, through the trust, to bring together community assets with private sector capital and skills to get the best possible results for the community. Trustees will come from the community, not Council, and the trust will operate independently.

“We will soon consult with the community about what property Council should retain,” Mr Clapperton says. “We also need to make sure the community understands that managing this property could include selling it if that is in the best interests of the community.”

Horowhenua Economic Development Board Chair, Cam Lewis says it is not unusual to establish trusts for community and economic development, but it’s not common for local bodies to take the route proposed.

“This is an innovative solution to the challenge of getting the best results for our district, with an aim being that the trust is self-sustaining in time.”

“The Economic Development Trust will be much better able to bring in the skills and expertise needed to respond to opportunities and challenges. It will work to maintain and broaden our district’s economic base, job creation and improved investment attraction.”

Economic Development Manager Shanon Grainger says our District is in a period of growth after a generation of decline and much needs to be done if we are to deliver economic benefits for residents.

“Already, the Kāpiti Expressway has led to increased numbers of people shopping in Levin and moving to Horowhenua. The proposed Ōtaki to North of Levin Expressway could include a bypass around Levin, and that would affect traffic flows and trade. This needs to be planned for, including making Levin’s Town Centre a destination. Council initially consulted on this project last year, and it is planning for a second round of consultation due to the rapidly changing environment.”

“Alongside this, our business community needs to respond to the demands of dealing with earthquake-prone buildings. This is a challenge for most New Zealand communities, including businesses in Levin, Foxton and Shannon. As well as this there are also social, cultural and environmental challenges and opportunities that Council supports, but is not best placed to lead,” says Mr Grainger.

The proposal to establish an Economic Development Trust for Horowhenua will go before Council’s Strategy Committee meeting on Wednesday 8 November 2017.