Tuesday, 1 December 2020

Mattress Factories and broken council incentives

The Initiative's Exec Director, Oliver Hartwich, loves telling stories about German towns that did everything they could to encourage businesses to come to their area, as well as new housing, because their finances depended on having a successful local economy.

New Zealand's a bit different.

In last week's Politik newsletter, Richard Harman goes through how Environment Minister David Parker has had to signal readiness to get involved in a scrap between the Waikato District and Regional Councils. 

District Council wants to allow the Sleepyhead Mattress Company to build a new factory and village; the company figures they can't have a plant if there's nowhere for workers to live. 

Regional Council doesn't want to rezone land to let it happen. Why?

The Council’s submission said that by enabling an isolated, car-dependent urban settlement at Ohinewai with few community services, the proposed rezoning would be contrary to the Waikato Regional Policy Statement “and therefore, unlawful.”

But now the question becomes whether the foam factory can exist without the houses and if it cannot (which would seem probable) whether Parker will then use the fast track again to approve the houses.

In short, is Parker using the fast track for the factory as a prelude to fast-tracking the entire development.

Parker here is on the side of the angels, but it really shouldn't take Ministerial intervention for somebody to be able to put up a mattress factory and some housing. That isn't a model that scales well. 

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