Thames as Dormitory Suburb!
Thursday, May 14, 2015 at 3:09PM
Bill Barclay

The presser that emerged from the Castle today on Thames as a destination for many considering a move from Auckland in particular will hardly come as a surprise - this was confirmed at a recent 'After Five' at Cafe Melbourne with considerable detail supplied by Harcourts who cannot of course be considered to be 'disinterested.' 

Interestingly enough, Thames and Cambridge were both mentioned in a Radio NZ item this morning for the same reasons, and the Campbell Live series over recent nights has pointed up the fact that 1.5 - 2 hours of travel either way to work is no longer out of the ordinary. The growth of Pokeno is really just a pointer in this direction. Those of us who make the City centre journey regularly in 1 hour 20 minutes (off-peak of course!) know that the Southern Motorway is now the bottleneck particularly around Spaghetti Junction.

It seems that that this town will become a commuter market - not just a retreat for the aged over future years, and it will start to put a quite different dynamic on real estate demand. Forget the Eastern Seaboard for all intents and purposes in this regard - the Kopu-Hikuwai is just a killer of that ambition. So the Eastern side will remain the main retirement market, but a younger highly mobile (think $200 fuel a week) demographic is heading this way, as well as Huntley and Cambridge with the new motorway extension.

So the statistics gathered by Horizon Research (sponsored by Harcourts) should reflect this by differentiating Thames from the remainder of the Coromandel - figures like those quoted of "the 25% who would consider moving to the Coromandel - 12% of whom are retired" is meaningless - some of these figures need to be Thames specific for us to get a handle on the actual demographic heading this way. 

And remember that Horizon Research has been under a cloud for several years through its use of 'self-selective' surveys. These methods are regarded as rubbish by many commentators, and shaky at best by many others. You really need to dig very deep into their methodology and results before taking anything for granted. Its results may be a pointer but it should not under any circumstances be regarded as sufficiently reliable on which to base investment decisions. 

Nevertheless, these results do have a ring of credibility, and what happens to house prices in this town is anyone's guess. Expect real growth in services aimed at providing for this new demographic. It remains a mystery for instance why a competitive fuel retailer has not taken advantage of the Kopu opportunity before now - it just seems crazy that we are still stuck with un-competitive prices  in this town. 

I have been very critical of the economic development efforts promoted by the Council in the past, and the proliferation of positions seemingly aimed as report writing and little else, but it appears that Ben Dunbar-Smiths effort particularly in the broadband expansion area may be beginning to pay off. Council should to be encouraged in these efforts - the July submission for Government broadband priority funding needs to be supported at the highest level, and whatever resources made available to ensure that its quality is at least the equal of the Cathedral Walkway Lottery Grant Application.

Leave no stone unturned in other words, because widely available broadband - both business and residential will be critical in attracting the demographic described above, and I mean both VDSL and fibre. Some re-direction of resurces from the futile Coromandel Harbour Project may be in order to really nail this tangible objective - something that appears to have escaped the attention of the much vaunted Economic Development Committee to date, but not for much longer I hope. Future development effort needs to closely align with this new reality.  




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