Formerly New Zealand's High Commissioner to the Cook Islands and MP for the Northland Electorate of New Zealand.


Moving forward together

22 October 2020

Striking a balance on development

The General Election may be over, but much more will be said in coming weeks as special votes are counted and coalition agreements (if any) are negotiated. For the Council, we have a degree of certainty that plans and funding announced over the past three years will remain on track. We will continue to prioritise resources so we can deliver the economic recovery and Provincial Growth Fund projects funded by the previous Coalition Government. Work has already begun on several of these projects and we are poised to sign agreements for others shortly.

We got another significant agreement across the line last week, but not with the Government. We signed a private development agreement with Arvida, which is building a retirement community in Kerikeri that will eventually include about 200 villas on Hall Road. Arvida operates 32 similar communities across the country and is one of the largest aged care providers in New Zealand. While essentially a Kerikeri project, this will benefit the entire district. It will boost our economy and provide employment, initially during the construction phase and then during its operation.

The private development agreement with Arvida is significant for the whole district. It confirms that Arvida will contribute $5 million towards public infrastructure, either as a financial contribution or as works carried out on behalf of the Council. This is in lieu of development contributions the Council stopped officially collecting in 2015. We did this to help reboot development after our economy was seriously impacted by the global financial crisis. The Council began talking to Arvida in February 2019 about how it could help offset the impact a large development would have on our infrastructure. I think the agreement we reached is fair and reasonable. Arvida will contribute towards sewerage and water services, will upgrade Hall Road, including a new 2.1-metre-wide footpath and safety lighting, will build walkways on esplanade strips, and contribute towards construction of public toilets in Kerikeri.

This deal sets a clear benchmark for other developers. It demonstrates what we see as an appropriate contribution to help offset the extra burdens new developments can place on our ratepayers. It also ensures that all residents can share in the benefits of developments. Striking the right balance is vital. We don’t want ratepayers to subsidise developments, but we also want to encourage developers to invest in our district.

One way we can do that is to change the way we rate businesses. From this week ratepayers will begin receiving their latest rates invoice in the mail. You will also receive information on proposals to make the rating system fairer and more transparent. This includes reducing the rates burden on commercial property owners. They currently pay $2.75 for every $1 paid by residential ratepayers. We propose reducing that to $1.75. You can find out more and take an informal survey on the rating system by going to the Have your say page on the FNDC website. We will formally consult on these ideas in March 2021.



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