Hutt at Heart

Population growing, building hits new highs, economy solid

Lower Hutt has shrugged off several decades in the doldrums and looks to be in a period of sustained growth.

Latest census figures show an average annual population increase of 1.2 per cent in the five years to 2018, compared to an average of 0.1 per cent for the years between 2006 and 2013.

Lower Hutt’s population was 104,532 at the time of the 2018 census – an increase of 6294 people over the five years.

At the same time, building consents received have steadily grown from 1189 in 2015/16 to 1633 in 2018/19. In the year to July 2019, the value of building consents received was $230 million, up 80 per cent on the previous year.

In the past five years, 1434 new homes were completed. Growth in new home building is expected to continue with 492 new dwelling consents received in the year to June 2019 – up 24 per cent on the previous year.

Retail figures also look healthy. Marketview data shows spending across the city, using credit and debit cards, increased 14 per cent to $2.6 billion in the two years to August 2019. Petone saw the biggest gain of 26 per cent for the period, followed by Naenae and Taita with an increase of 13.4 per cent.

Council Chief Executive Jo Miller says the growth is heartening and in line with Council projections.

“The city’s long-held vision of rejuvenating Lower Hutt has been building momentum for the last few years, resulting in Lower Hutt becoming a much more attractive place to live, work, visit and do business.”

She says, while Council can’t claim all the credit, targeted incentives for housing and economic development, and Council’s partnership building with businesses, community and education organisations have played their part.

“But it’s the hard work and vision of local people, businesses, investors and educators that will make the city a success. It’s Council’s aim that every resident feels she or he has a stake in making Lower Hutt a place we’re immensely proud of.”

Historically, Lower Hutt’s economy had a run of high growth until the economic reforms of the late 1980s and early 1990s, when many large industrial employers closed down. The global financial crisis in 2008 also put the brakes on economic performance, resulting in a long period of low growth.

However, the latest available Infometrics data for 2018 shows the number of businesses in Lower Hutt increased 2.1 per cent to 10,365, compared to the previous year. The average national average growth rate of new businesses for this period was 0.7 per cent.

Employment growth was 2.1 per cent, compared to an average of negative 0.1 per cent per year for the previous decade.

Productivity, measured by gross domestic product per employee, was $100,572, compared to the national average of $97,174.

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