The sound of hammers is ringing out across Hastings this week, as the construction industry gets back to work under Level 3 – a positive step in the jump-starting of Hastings’ economy.
Construction is the fourth largest contributor to the Hastings economy, behind manufacturing, primary industry and health care (Infometrics data).
It will be a safe start, with business owners and site managers putting in place physical distancing protocols on site, but it is immensely positive news, said Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst.
There were a huge number of large constructions projects worth an estimated $500 million underway in Hastings when COVID-19 Level 4 caused them to be paused.
They include the home-building programme, which will see more than 300 homes built by iwi, industry and Government, the Royston Hospital expansion, a new private hospital development, the redevelopment of the Tribune building in the central city, and apartments and hotel construction.
“I met with the development industry late last week and they are very optimistic about the future. They assured me that construction on all of the projects would resume as soon as possible, as will Council projects,” said Mrs Hazlehurst.
Hastings District Council projects include the earthquake strengthening and refurbishment of the Municipal Buildings, the replacement water storage projects, and planned and funded city upgrade programmes.
Advanced Properties owner Warren Ladbrook said the resumption of construction ws important to the whole of the region’s economy.
“For every medium to large-scale project there are hundreds of people and many supply chains involved, from architects, planners, engineers and quantity surveyors, to the builders, plumbers and electricians on-site, and the businesses that supply concrete, steel, cabling, refrigeration and timber. And they are all buying lunches and coffees, and groceries for their families, clothes for the kids – helping to support another tier of our economy.”
He said there was a “huge amount” of work already underway before COVID put the brakes on that can now be completed, and a lot of new projects in the planning and consenting stages that will also proceed. “I’m very optimistic.”
Council will shortly announce detail on its Hastings Recovery Plan, focused on both community and the economy. It is linked into the regional recovery plan being prepared by all five Hawke’s Bay councils and sits under the Government’s national recovery plan.
“Primary industry and construction are two very strong sectors of our economy, and they give us a very solid foundation on which to rebuild,” said Mrs Hazlehurst.
“Council has a strong role to play in the recovery, however we must do that in a way that impacts as little as possible on rates.
“Tools that we have include getting projects already funded underway, streamlining our consenting processes to enable our private construction industry to work as efficiently as possible, and targeting external funding that will allow us to bring forward our projects.”
On the latter, it is expected Government will make decisions on economic stimulus packages for the regions in the coming months. Hastings has submitted shovel-ready projects valued at more than $120m - three waters (drinking water, sewage and stormwater), construction and infrastructure - as part of a regional package put together by the five Hawke’s Bay councils.
“By enabling our construction industry we increase employment opportunities and get money circulating through our economy again,” said Mrs Hazlehurst.
“We know there are sectors of our community that will find it much tougher than others to get back to normal and Council is investigating ways to assist. We will stay strong, and we will get through this together.”
29 April 2020
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