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Locals fear further flooding

Aerial view of the new subdivision at Williams Estate on Gordon St, Masterton. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Developer: Land already flood-prone

Residents living near a major subdivision have raised concerns about flooding, but the Masterton property developer says extra work at the site has solved the issue.

Residents have said water runoff from Masterton Golf Course and the surrounding area, and new runoff caused by the development, would cause problems because parts of the area were already waterlogged and flood-prone.

However, Steve Pilbrow of Westwood Property Group, the developer of the Williams Estate site on Gordon St, said while significant rain events had become more frequent, the development itself would not cause flooding.

“The development will not cause a runoff issue. There is already an issue there,” Pilbrow said.

He said significant investment in engaging experts, including engineers, ecologists, and hydrologists ensured there was no water problem with the development.

“Over the past three months, we have moved more than 100,000 cubic metres of earth to recontour the site. We will be installing a reticulated stormwater system to every lot.

“This is one of the first developments in Wairarapa which has a reticulated stormwater system,” he said.

“Our development is not going to cause any additional flooding.”

Neighbouring property owner Brian Crump said the land was a swamp in winter, and even cattle struggled on it.

“The land is not suitable for houses; it is exceedingly wet.

“The water runs down from the golf course and so many properties flood here as the area is full of streams. I don’t believe the moving around of creeks and drainage would be enough to manage the extra water from the houses.

“This extra runoff from all the houses would clog up the rest of the system or run into other properties,” Crump said.

Pilbrow said there was a plan and infrastructure to deal with excess water when it rained heavily.

“We are basically piping the water to an attenuation pond. They have been very carefully sized to take a big rain event. In the big events, the pond will fill up and allow the water to drain away at a slower pace.

Most of the time it would be empty.”

Attenuation ponds or reservoirs were a partial solution to stormwater management and surface water runoff to avoid downstream flooding.

Masterton District Council granted permission for the 200-lot subdivision and townhouse development on 30 hectares of land in Gordon St in Lansdowne. All 76 lots in stage one had already sold.

The council also approved and granted resource consent for an original plan which included two attenuation ponds.

However, Greater Wellington Regional Council disagreed due to the impact on an existing wetland on the site.

Pilbrow said he had hoped the original plan would have addressed those issues.

“In our original plan, we believed we could have solved some of the historical problems where the infrastructure had to be upgraded.

“We have lost the opportunity for that,” he said, “We could have got a better outcome.”

Pilbrow said the council infrastructure in place was not robust enough to deal with heavy rain events. He had proposed building two ponds to deal with both the existing problem and ensure the development caused no new issues.

“The compromise is that we are only putting one attenuation pond in. We are leaving the wetland as it is. The areas that have been determined to be wetland have been separated out and we have designed the development around them.”

Another neighbour, Steven Price, said he had not been asked to comment on the application.

“I think what the council has done is shoddy and this absolutely should have been notified so we could inform council about all the flooding up here,” he said.

Pilbrow said he was happy to meet the neighbours to discuss their concerns.

The land, known as the ‘Williams Block’ was run as a farm, and gifted to the council in 1939 by the Williams family. While various options for the land were tabled, including a sports ground, nothing happened for some time. In 2019, councillors agreed to sell the land for development.

In November 2020, the regional council granted consent for earthworks and stream work to go ahead.

There were five access points into the site, two from Kitchener St and one each from Gordon St, Bolton’s Rd and Tawa St. The internal roading network [to be vested with the council] would consist of a series of roads of varying widths.

There were areas of public open space also vested with the council. The development would connect with urban services for water and wastewater.

A council spokesperson said the plans to urbanise Gordon St involved adding footpaths, kerbing and channelling.

“In this instance, the land use component of the application made approval of the application discretionary, because the townhouses were closer to boundaries than allowed by the plan and there is a fault line on the land,” he said.

“It was considered that neither of these matters affected other persons or property in a manner that was more than minor, and there were no special circumstances that existed that otherwise warranted public or limited notification.”

The development had three stages. Stage one had 76 lots, which were already sold. Stages two and three would follow the completion of stage one, which was expected to be towards the end of this year.

– Additional reporting by Karen Coltman

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