Featherston Masterplan – Discussion Document and Feedback

About the plan
Next steps

To help kick off discussion, Council planners produced two Concept Options for residents to consider during an informal consultation phase, which broadly asked them for their views on how Featherston could be improved.

The options – which showed how greater housing density could be achieved around the train station and main street – are found in a Foundation Discussion Document which was released in July. The feedback received will help guide the draft Masterplan, which will go out for formal consultation in early 2023.

About the plan

Featherston has been identified as a town suitable for transit-oriented development in the district’s Spatial Plan and in the Wellington Regional Growth Framework.

More recently, it has also been identified by the Wellington Regional Leadership Committee as a Complex Development Opportunity (CDO).

The Foundation Discussion Document is the informal consultation stage of Featherston’s Masterplan. It primarily focuses on enabling more residential housing, but it will also look more broadly at how this would be provided with infrastructure and how it connects to other aspects of the town such as amenities and businesses.

Since 30 March 22, the Council has been talking to hapū/iwi  and the community. Groups we have talked to include Pae tū Mokai o Tauira, Featherston Knitting Group, Booktown, Fareham House Creative Space, Featherston Sports Hub, Five Trails Trust, Powerco, Fab Feathy, Wairarapa Moana Trail, and the Department of Internal Affairs. We also held an online public meeting on 30 March.

We’ve also spoken to appropriate agencies and organisations like KiwiRail, Kainga Ora, Waka Kotahi and Greater Wellington Regional Council.

This engagement has helped us better understand the challenges and opportunities facing Featherston.

The growth options

Our population projections over the next 30 years suggest Featherston will have around 1730 additional residents which means Featherston is likely to need around 940 new homes over that period.

To give Featherston the capacity for this, some new medium density zonings will be required. Section 4 of the Foundation Document lays out some of the options to introduce a medium density zone that allows development at densities of 1 dwelling per 200 square metres. Other parts of town designated “general density” would allow lots of 300sqm.

The current minimum section size across urban Featherston is 500 square metres but many sections are currently 800-900sqm, which makes subdivision difficult..

As this growth occurs it is also important the necessary infrastructure to support that growth is in place. This includes water, waste water and social infrastructure such as parks and reserves.

The options up for discussion have focussed on:

  • The Town Centre – Commercial activities only
  • Mixed Use Area – Commercial and residential activities
  • Medium Density Residential – Houses/Lots at 1 per 200m2
  • General Residential – Houses/Lots at 1 per 300m2
  • Outer Residential – Houses/Lots at 1 per 2000-4000m2
  • Community Uses – Open space, community space, parks, sports facilities and community buildings

Concept Option One – Increased Density Around Main Street and Existing Train Station

Aims to make better use of existing urban land and does not encourage the development of general or medium density development beyond the existing established boundaries.

Concept Option Two – Intensification Around Main Street and New Town Centre Train Station

  • Move the train station to the centre of town to help support main street rejuvenation and create a range of densities
  • Located more to the south, this option also does not encourage the development of general or medium density development beyond the existing established boundaries

Both proposals would have minimum section sizes of 300 square metres in the “general” areas, and 200sqm in the “medium density” zones. This is a reduction of the current minimum lot size in Featherston which is 500sqm but many sections are 800-900sqm, which are unable to be subdivided.

Feedback from this consultation period will guide a draft Masterplan, which will go out to formal consultation in early 2023.

Feedback on Discussion Document

Informal consultation was conducted in July and August 2022. It showed that Featherston residents overall preferred Concept Option One which would leave the train station where it is, because it was a walkable distance for most residents and because moving the station would incur significant cost.

Feedback also showed that the majority of residents were open to smaller sections and denser housing in their town, provided it was done well, to increase access to affordable housing that met their needs.

At the same time, residents wanted the qualities that Featherston values to be retained.

There was a high level of engagement, with 154 survey responses and 32 people attending at the five drop-in sessions held.

At the 21 September 2022 Council meeting, Councillors agreed that Concept Option One (intensification around the existing main street and train station) was the preferred concept and should go forward for detailed masterplanning.

They also responded to the community’s views on a vision statement. The original vision statement for the plan was: “A strong, caring community where there is a place for everyone”.

There was a lot of support for this vision; however, the community also indicated they wanted it to be more aspirational. As a result two options have been put forward for community feedback when the detailed Masterplan goes out for formal consultation in early 2023.

Residents will be asked to choose between:

Vision 1: “Featherston – A thriving community of workers, families and creatives all supporting each other”.

Vision 2: “Featherston – Resilient, Creative, Caring”

What residents said

The plan’s key objectives were:

  • Creating a pleasant town centre along the main street which also serves as a state highway
  • Ensuring that there is capacity for growth, with associated infrastructure
  • Protecting what is valued (such as family living/lifestyle options) while enabling future intensification, housing choice and change

Of the two Concept Options proposed, the majority (64 per cent) supported intensifying housing around the current train station location and main street in Concept Option One.

Only 10 per cent favoured Concept Option Two, to move the station closer to the main street to help stimulate the town centre.

Many people felt the current station was an acceptable walk from the main street, but particular note was made of the walkway from the train station to the shops.

There were suggestions of better lighting, a covered walkway with art or sculptures, or a mixed-use area between the town and the station. Our planners have taken note.

Twenty-two per cent did not support either Option One or Two. Some cited infrastructure as a concern, others believing that changes were needed to both options, such as reducing density in parts of town.

Other key themes included:

Density – More than two thirds of respondents (69 per cent) supported the idea of increased housing density and just under a third did not.

While the number of sections created was greater in Option Two, both options included a medium-density area (minimum 200 square metres), and a general residential zone (down to 300sqm) radiating from the station and town centre.

This would be a big change for many property owners as the current minimum average residential section size in Featherston is 500sqm.
Those who did not support increased density cited infrastructure capacity, or felt the sections proposed were slightly too small.

Advantages of smaller sections for housing are that they can trigger more affordable and give more choice to older people wanting to downsize. Homelessness, especially hidden homelessness, was a concern mentioned by a number of people.

Heritage protection – General support for a design guide in Featherston, which would help ensure increased density is sympathetic to the town’s quality.

Stimulating the main street – This was a very important theme for many respondents and there was a large range of suggestions on how this could be improved. Planners will look at a number of measures which may include traffic calming measures, planting, new paving, speed limits, and safety.

Reserves – Submissions championed better use of parks and reserves, especially with higher density. A general guideline for reserves is 4 hectares of reserve land per every 1000 people. There is currently 13.3ha of reserve land, not including One Tree Hill and Ōtauira reserve. If the population of Featherston grows as projected, 17.2ha would be needed.

Industrial land – Featherston’s main street has a mix of zoning with commercial near the middle and industrial on the east and west sides of the main street. There is also a larger industrial zone at the end of Birdwood St.  

A town centre zone on the main street, as proposed in Option One, would provide for core commercial activities, but remove some industrial zoning.  

People were split between the need for more industrial land and a large number of people wanted industrial land to cater for light industrial to support commercial business. Others felt the land in Birdwood St was under utilised.

Timeline to date

  • Work began in January 2022
  • A variety of community groups were consulted, including Booktown, Wairarapa Moana, Fab Feathy and others. A design charette (workshop) is held with government agencies.
  • Because of its location, Featherston has been listed as one of seven areas expected by the Wellington Regional Leadership Committee to be a top “growth node” for the Wellington region. This means the town can expect support, inter-agency liaison, and government investment to implement the growth.
  • A Foundation Discussion Document was presented to Council on 14 July and three weeks of community consultation begins shortly after via a survey and drop in sessions.
  • Council workshop on 1 September provided a summary on the feedback and discusses the two concept options.
  • On 21 September, Council adopted Concept Option One for detailed design work and a new vision statement using words which reflected the feedback of residents.

Next steps

  • Work begins in October 2022 on a detailed Masterplan for formal feedback in early 2023.
  • On 5 October 2022, a design charette will be held to develop Concept Option One. This will involve government agencies and key stakeholders including Pae tū Mōkai, Greater Wellington Regional Council, Waka Kotahi, Wellington Water and KiwiRail. It is important to integrate the operational requirements of all parties in the Masterplan and ensure that there is a strategy that all parties agree to implement.
  • Further engagement with the Wellington Regional Leadership Committee will occur, in line with Featherston being prioritised as a Complex Development Opportunity.
  • It is intended to have a draft Masterplan ready for Council to review in December 2022.  
  • Formal consultation will then occur around late January or February 2023. Residents and the community will then have the opportunity to provide written submissions and speak to their submissions before the new Council. This is likely to occur around April 2023.


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