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Stormwater halts plan

The growing South Wairarapa town of Martinborough. PHOTO/SUPPLIED



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A plan to accommodate Martinborough’s rapidly expanding population has been shelved, after two years work and $50,000 investment.

The Martinborough Southeast Growth Plan [MSGP], a document South Wairarapa District Council put to some town residents two years ago, sought to deal with population growth.

But concerns over potential flooding, and the launch of other ratepayers surveys, have stopped the project flow, despite a five-figure outlay so far.

Rising populations in all three of the district’s three towns – also including Featherston and Greytown – has been an issue for successive councils.

And the 5711 postcode area has become a sought-after location.

The plan, backed in a December 2018 SWDC meeting, sought to rezone 48ha of land near the town, between Todds Rd, New York St, and Regent St.

This was one of five options presented by the Gisborne-based Kaha Consultancy.

When the plan was initially released in 2018, SWDC engineers acknowledged stormwater drainage would be the “most complicated” infrastructural issue, but could be addressed with “appropriate engineering solutions”.

However, officers reports to the district’s three community boards said the plan was on hold, because of the costs of stormwater infrastructure in the area.

The report says SWDC has halted further work after Wellington Water’s investigations warned of the “extent and costs of stormwater constraints and required mitigation in the area”.

Around $50,000 has been spent on investigations for the MSGP project to date, which will now support findings from the public consultations, said SWDC’s Russell O’Leary.

“Council would like to explore all options and consult further with the community before making any decisions,” he said.

“There are recognised stormwater constraints and flooding issues within the [area]. Wellington Water has advised that significant stormwater mitigation measures and further technical investigation are required to resolve concerns prior to further development of the area.”

O’Leary said the council’s spatial and long term plan consultation, which opened earlier this month, would “inform further options for growth”.

South Wairarapa Mayor Alex Beijen said the initial consultation was not “wide enough”.

“It seemed to concentrate on residents and developers rather than the whole community.

“In this, the draft spatial plan consultation, we’ll be asking the whole community how they want their communities to grow, rather than a subset of the community.

“Anything that has been done before is being reconsulted on to make sure we have got it right.”

In 2018, Martinborough Business Association [MBA] chair Peter Couchman said housing was a problem that needed “immediate” attention.

Allan Hogg, Couchman’s successor, said the MBA “continues to underline the housing and accommodation problems workers face in taking up work in Martinborough”.

“This has been the case for some years now. While the south east development has been put on hold, the Association recognises the need to ensure future developments do not compromise but enhance the village and wine growing characteristics of the area.

“We attract new residents to Martinborough often for lifestyle reasons. These characteristics are important to them in making their decisions.”

Hogg said the town’s businesses are struggling to hire people, and accommodation was one factor.

“The association is working on a solution to achieve a “work ready” group of job seekers to take up these jobs. Accommodation and transport considerations are part of the problem too.”

SWDC opens a series of open evenings on its spatial and long-term plan in Greytown tomorrow [Wednesday September 30].

Any changes that may come from the public sessions would need to be amended in the Wairarapa Combined District Plan, which is also in the process of being reviewed.

SWDC and Wellington Water are also holding a “drop-in” session over their plans for Featherston’s wastewater treatment plant next Saturday [October 3].



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Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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