Featherston Masterplan feedback

Featherston residents have indicated that they are open to smaller sections and denser housing provided it is done well, so more people can access affordable housing that meets their needs.

A recent survey also shows that overall, they prefer their train station where it is because it is a walkable distance for most of Featherston and moving the station would incur significant cost.

The survey was part of an informal consultation done by South Wairarapa District Council on its Featherston Masterplan, a 30-year plan to guide the town’s future growth.

Featherston is recognised as a growth node and because of its key location on the rail network, an area around the train station has been tagged for growth. Some of this area will be intensified for housing.

Most residents told the survey that out of two Concept Options put forward, the option that densified around the existing train station and main street was their preference (64 per cent).

The majority of residents also said that while they approved of greater density, they wanted the qualities that Featherston values to be retained.

There was a high degree of community interest in the plan, with 154 survey responses and 32 people attending the five drop-in sessions held.

“Featherston is a highly engaged community and has taken a keen interest in the Masterplan,” said the Council’s Chief Executive, Harry Wilson.

“We trust this level of interest will continue as the plan is firmed up for the next phase.”

The Masterplan will provide detailed planning to deal with Featherston’s population growth – which is forecast to rise steadily from 2,600 currently to 4,300 over the next three decades.

At the Council meeting on 21 September 2022, Councillors agreed that Concept Option One – intensification around the existing main street and train station – should go forward for detailed master planning. They also discussed a new vision statement (see below).

A Draft Masterplan will go out for formal consultation in early 2023.

What residents said

At its heart, the Masterplan’s key objectives centre around creating a vibrant town centre, growth and infrastructure, and protecting what is valued while enabling future intensification and housing choice.

Of two concepts proposed, 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.

Particular note was made of the walkway from the train station to the shops. Suggestions included better lighting, a covered walkway with art or sculptures, or a mixed-use area between the town and the station.

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.


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

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.

Both Concept 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.

Heritage protection

There was general support for a design guide in Featherston, which would help ensure increased density is sympathetic to the town’s quality.

Main street rejuvenation

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.


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

People were split on industrial land and the need for light industrial to support commercial business. Some felt the industrial land in Birdwood St was under utilised.

A new vision statement

At the meeting, Councillors 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 draft 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”

For more information, see our powerpoint presentation on the feedback

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