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Highway to boost Horowhenua’s burgeoning population even more

The proposed highway from Ōtaki to north of Levin is expected to boost the already burgeoning population of the Horowhenua district.

The latest Census results for 2023 show Horowhenua to be one of the fastest-growing areas in New Zealand, and the new four-lane highway is expected to lure even more people to the district.

The Ōtaki to North of Levin (Ō2NL) highway is set to be finished by the end of 2029 and is expected to cut the drive between Levin and Wellington to an hour.

Horowhenua Mayor Bernie Wanden said many businesses had already relocated to the district due to its relatively low costs and accessibility to Wellington and markets further north, giving rise to a growth in population.

It now ranks as the 10th fastest-growing district in New Zealand, outpacing many larger areas in both the Horizons and Greater Wellington regions.

By 2051, the population of Horowhenua is tipped to reach 66,000.

Wanden said the district now boasted 17,220 houses, with 1329 new homes built in recent years, averaging 265 new houses a year.

“That’s some serious growth,” he said.

While cities such as Lower Hutt and Porirua have also grown over the past five years, Horowhenua has seen the largest increase in population across the Horizons and Greater Wellington regions, while Wellington has experienced a slight decline.

Horowhenua’s population was recorded at 36,693 in March 2023, a significant increase from five years earlier when it was 33,261 and continuing a positive trend from the early 2010s.

Wanden said growth put increased demand on essential services and required careful planning.

“The sustained growth in Horowhenua has significant implications for the community.

“As the population increases, there will be greater demand for public services like healthcare, education and recreational facilities. Ensuring access to these essential services will be a priority for council as we plan for the future.

“Additionally, the surge in new housing highlights the need for thoughtful urban development to maintain the character and quality of life that residents cherish. Balancing new buildings with the preservation of green spaces and community amenities will be crucial to sustainable and integrated growth.”

Horowhenua District Council chief executive Monique Davidson said the 2023 Census data was “crucial in guiding our planning and development efforts to ensure we meet the needs of our growing population”.

Blair Spencer, the council’s group manager of housing and business development, said supporting housing development was essential.

“We continue to plan for growth through creating and enabling subdivisions like Tara-Ika and through supporting those in the development community who are out there standing up the houses.”

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