Highway speed limit delaying Palmerston North housing development
Residential development on the city side of Te Wanaka Rd cannot go ahead until the intersection is improved and speeds on Pioneer Highway are dropped.
Delays in slowing down state highway traffic on the edge of Palmerston North are thwarting development of the city’s next suburb.
Former horse training land bounded by the Mangaone Stream, Pioneer Highway and Te Wanaka Rd had been rezoned to allow creation of 230 new residential sections.
But the Kikiwhenua development cannot start until the speed limit was reduced from 100kph to 80kph and intersection improvements were made at the main access to the new suburb.
Without those changes, access would only allow about 30 lots to be developed, the council’s strategy and finance committee was told in a staff report.
City councillor Pat Handcock said it was time Waka Kotahi made the change.
“We don’t have enough greenfield land for development for the city, and have Waka Kotahi effectively stopping that from happening, all for the want of a reasonable decision managing the state highway.”
Council chief planning officer David Murphy said the city’s supply of spade-ready residentially-zoned land for greenfield development was almost fully exhausted.
That breached the council’s goal to have at least three years’ worth of serviced housing land ready for building new homes.
Murphy said discussions with Waka Kotahi to enable progress at Kikiwhenua had so far failed to reach a resolution.
He said the rezoning of the land in the District Plan should be the public signal that triggered a speed reduction.
However, Waka Kotahi staff seemed to think the role of the state highway bringing freight into the city remained the route’s dominant purpose, and that the speed would not come down until there was development, he said.
“We disagree with that.”
An email response from Waka Kotahi gave little indication about when a decision on the speed limit might occur.
Traffic speeds on Pioneer Highway/State Highway 56 are an impediment to residential development at Te Wanaka Rd.
The agency held a round of community meetings and received submissions in 2022 about future speeds on State Highway 56.
“Engagement feedback showed there was support for reducing speeds from Palmerston North to Longburn and around key intersections such as Te Wanaka Road.”
The response acknowledged the submission from the city council supporting a reduction to 80kph, and said there would be future reconsideration as more development occurred.
“Waka Kotahi is currently looking at options on SH56 from Palmerston North to Longburn, which aligns with the refocus on speed management.”
City councillors were concerned it was not just road speed limits delaying preparation for more residential development.
Murphy said the council needed to get stormwater works in place, likely this year, to enable subdivision and building to go ahead at Whakarongo, and resourcing issues meant servicing Kikiwhenua was unlikely to happen until at least 2024.
Budget constraints had slowed preparation of a rezoning proposal at Kākātangiata further to the west of the city.
The council’s strategy and finance committee had asked for a report on what resources and support were needed to free up more land for housing.
- ^ Two appeals lodged against decision on Palmerston North’s next suburb (www.stuff.co.nz)
- ^ Rezoning approval comes with conditions that will cause delays (www.stuff.co.nz)
- ^ Decision expected soon on using horse land for housing (www.stuff.co.nz)