Today, independent commissioners released their decision on Plan Change 6: Whakarongo Residential Area. They confirmed the area to be rezoned from rural to residential, subject to minor planning provision amendments.
Whakarongo is on the eastern outskirts of Palmerston North. It is made up of 62 hectares bounded by James Line, Napier Road, Stoney Creek Road and the southern extent of the Kelvin Grove Cemetery (wholly located outside air noise contours).
Palmerston North Mayor Jono Naylor says today is a red letter day for the city
"We have laid the groundwork that will allow the city to accommodate future growth for the next 15 years."
"50 hectares is now set aside for residential development on which 700 - 900 sections will be created," he says.
Whakarongo will boast a 1.1 kilometre path that would follow the edge of an escarpment offering views across the Manawatū River to the Tararua Ranges. It will also include a $1.6 million underpass for cars, bicycles and pedestrians allowing residents to cross the Palmerston North to Gisborne railway line, thereby ensuring a well-connected community.
Policy planner Daniel Batley says the decision is welcome news. "We have been working on this project for over a decade. During this time Council considered Te Matai Road, Cloverlea and City West before ruling them out in favour of Whakarongo."
"This decision gives certainty to developers, land owners and residents," says Mr Batley.
"The Commissioners supported council's view that an integrated approach should be taken to the provision of infrastructure."
"The new suburb will be developed with design-led principles in mind ensuring good community and design outcomes."
Plan Change 6: Whakarongo Residential Area is open to appeals to the Environment Court, if anyone wishes to appeal they have 30 working days to do so.
Meanwhile, private Plan Change B: Pioneer City West is pending a public hearing.
Mayor Naylor says that, barring an appeal, residents will in the next few years start to see streets laid out and infrastructure constructed. This will be followed by homes and new residents. "It is very exciting for the city."