As the Kāpiti Coast District Council deliberates over submissions on its new growth strategy Growing Well, the district’s Chamber of Commerce is calling the plan out for lacking a focus on attracting and partnering with businesses.

As part of its role advocating for the local business community, Kāpiti Coast Chamber of Commerce submitted on the strategy, providing the Council with feedback saying it needed to do more.

Speaking at the Council hearing, Chamber Co-Chair Monique Leith said the proposed approaches in the strategy are not progressive or future-facing enough.

“Timing is critical, and Kāpiti’s plans and strategies need to be kept fresh, and reflect current legislation, opportunities and challenges,” she says.

“Central government guidance will promote higher residential density and growth in Kāpiti, however, an increased number of residents does not automatically equate to increased employment opportunities. Business growth needs to be specifically prioritised, in partnership with business stakeholders, to help Kāpiti move away from high levels of commuting, and to realise the Council’s other aspirations in the growth plan.”

Monique says the Chamber believes business attraction needs an energetic implementation plan, which is not evident in the Strategy, and that previous development attempts in the area designed to stimulate growth have been hamstrung by layers of rules, making the process unnecessarily complex and costly.

“A close eye needs to be kept on any District Plan changes that are drafted for the purpose of implementing growth objectives,” she says.

“The general expectation in the business community is that Council will take a slow-paced approach to rolling out any new urban development directives that promote growth in the district. The implementation plan should direct the council to be early adopters of growth-enabling legislation”.

Shared working and meeting spaces are lacking in the district, the Chamber says, and protection of spaces for retail and commercial office space does not go far enough to achieve business growth.

While much work has been done on the Economic Development Strategy, yet there is no linking into this within Growing Well. The plan to intensify development around Kāpiti’s main centres, including building height changes, will promote growth, these changes will be superseded by mandatory RMA prescriptions, so Kāpiti’s Growth Strategy needs to be updated to align, and avoid becoming obsolete, the Chamber says.

“More work is needed,” Monique says.

“This approach is lacklustre, and while the Strategy rightly identifies partnerships with manawhenua, it is silent on partnerships with business”.