Hamilton's swing south all go as Peacocke development ramps up
It’s been decades in the making and now a promise to open up Hamilton’s south to new housing is quickly becoming a reality.
Hundreds of curious residents took up an invitation to learn more about the city council’s plans to transform Peacocke from undulating farmland into a showpiece neighbourhood during a public open day on Tuesday.
Peacocke is earmarked to soak up a lot of the city’s growth with an estimated 20,000-plus residents expected to call the area home by 2048.
But opening up Peacocke hasn’t been without controversy as the council has worked to acquire property rights to land needed for new roads.
Hamilton Deputy Mayor Geoff Taylor said the Peacocke development has caused pain for some landowners but it also represents the fulfilment of a long-standing promise to create new housing in the city’s south-west.
Peacocke was brought into the city’s boundary in 1989.
“There has been a lot of publicity, good and bad, which is fine and that’s lifted the profile of Peacocke,” Taylor said.
“I think people have heard a lot about it, and also I think they’re starting to see the bulldozers come in now, so the rubber is starting to hit the road.”
Work has already started on a new river bridge which, when completed, will connect Hillcrest to Peacocke.
Karen Saunders, city council’s growth programmes manager, said Peacocke is unique in that a big chunk of infrastructure is being delivered all at once. This was made possible after the council secured a $180.3 million 10-year interest-free loan from the Government and $110.1m in NZTA subsidies.
“The other unique thing is, because we’ve got all of that investment up front for the infrastructure, we’re able to take this place-based approach to delivering communities,” Saunders said.
“So we’re not just building a bridge and roads, we’re looking at how do we deliver a community with 20,000 people, lining up the parks, lining up the community amenities, working closely with the Ministry of Education to ensure there’s schooling at the right time.”
More than 9000 people are expected to be living in Peacocke within the next decade.
Saunders said Peacocke represents the council’s largest ever environmental investment in a growth area, with special consideration given to the nationally critical long-tailed bats.
In an interim decision issued last month, Environment Court judge Jeff Smith approved a ban on cat ownership in the planned 105-ha Amberfield subdivision. Amberfield will form a big part of the Peacocke neighbourhood.
Other environmental initiatives include 15 hectares of gully restoration work, 1.5km of stream restoration, and 30 new wetlands.
Fitzroy residents Joan Nicholson and Prue Armstrong said many of their questions about Peacocke were answered after attending Tuesday’s open day.
Large-scale maps were particularly useful in showing where the new roads and infrastructure will be built.
The new roundabout on Ohaupo Road, south of Hamilton, has already opened to traffic and will eventually serve as a key gateway into Peacocke.
Nicholson said it’s disappointing prime farmland in Peacocke will be lost as new houses are built but developing the city's south is essential.
“I’ve come from the north-east of the city where there’s been huge expansion. It’s time the south was expanded and developed. However, in saying that, we as a city have to learn to go up, rather than out,” she said.
“What I did find heartening is that a lot of thought has gone into protecting the environment and the bats. The council is not just going to put roads through here willy-nilly.”
Armstrong said the open day would have put a lot of residents’ minds at ease.
“I think the dissenters won’t have so much to complain about now,” she said.
The council is seeking public feedback on its draft Peacocke structure plan ahead of formal consultation in May next year. The structure plan will serve as a blueprint for the region.
Taylor said Peacocke is an opportunity to design a neighbourhood from scratch.
“We can say, right from the start, we’ll have cycleways and walkways.”
Councillor Maxine van Oosten also attended the open day and said feedback from attendees was positive. Questions were raised, however, about the need for new shopping facilities in the area to allow residents to shop local.
“I also spoke to the Waikato Kindergarten Association who are keen to be included in future planning. What we don’t want is mums travelling all the way across town to use early childhood facilities,” van Oosten said.
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