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By DAVID HILL

Waimakariri’s building boom is continuing and its population is on track to top 70,000 over the next decade.

Waimakariri District Council planning manager Nick Harrison says the council issued 664 consents for new houses in the 2016 calendar year, on a par with the 671 house consents issued in 2015.

While this was down on the post-earthquake boom period in 2013 and 2014, when 2309 consents for new houses were issued, Mr Harrison says the latest figures are better than expected.

“It seems to be plateauing, as we expected it would. But we probably thought it was going to be closer to the 600 mark than the mid-600s.”

The latest consent figures are higher than the record set before the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes, of 624 house consents set in 2004.

Mr Harrison says the 1000 houses lost in the Kaiapoi residential red zone were effectively replaced 18 months ago, so the 2016 house consents represents new growth and has flow on effects for the wider community.

For planning purposes the council uses a multiplier of 2.6 people per household – 664 consents equates to more than 1700 people, with children needing to be enrolled in pre-schools and schools, more families with pets and other services being required.

“Basically you get more of everything,” Mr Harrison says.

“The infrastructure is all planned for, as the engineers work out what is needed over a 30 year period. So the sewage and water supply is all planned for, but you certainly see the effects with road works – there’s always some development.”

The district population as at June 30, 2016, was 57,800 – compared to the 2006 population of 42,800. Mr Harrison says the latest consent figures suggest the population is on track to reach 71,500 in 2028 and 83,100 in 2043, which are “medium projections” over a 30 year period, based on the 2013 census figures.

He says the growth in population is likely to lead to the district being more self-sufficient, generating more jobs and potentially reducing commute times into Christchurch.

Enterprise North Canterbury chief executive Heather Warwick says the statistics confirm a growth in population does result in a corresponding growth in local employment, with a 35 percent growth in jobs between 2011 and 2015, from 10,500 to 13,750.

“This is proof that as the population increases there becomes a need for more product and services which results in more jobs to service the needs of a growing community.

“A growing population and growth in local jobs all provides for a vibrant district. However, it’s not just about jobs for local people it’s also about a sense of community in rural towns and villages. This is why many are moving to our district.

“To hold people here they also need to be able to recreate in their own towns and district.

This includes cafes, bars, movie theatres, swimming pools, parks and excellent sporting facilities and an array of retail shops – which we have in abundance.”

Rangiora is leading the way with 262 house consents issued in 2016, on the back of the Ryman development which includes 180 villas. This is 103 more consents than in 2015.

There were 183 consents (234 in 2015) issued in Kaiapoi, 54 (77) in Pegasus, 15 (21) in Oxford and nine (two) in Woodend.

There were also 102 (132) consents issued for houses in rural areas, representing a continued interest in lifestyle blocks.