“We’re still very much open for business”, is the message from Hamilton City Council as it warns the three waters networks in some parts of Hamilton are not keeping up with growth demands.
This week Council began advising developers it might not be able to immediately approve new resource consents and three waters connections in some areas where the increasing demand is impacting the networks and our environment.
High risk areas, due to wastewater capacity constraints, have been identified in the south-west of the city, including Bader, Melville, Deanwell, Glenview and Fitzroy. Other areas Council are keeping a closer eye on due to increasing risk include parts of Hamilton East, Claudelands, Fairfield, Hillcrest and around the University, and isolated pockets of the city including small areas of St Andrews, Rototuna and Nawton.
“Making sure Hamilton can continue to grow and develop is a priority for Council and we’re committed to working with the development community to make this happen. But we also have obligations to look after our environment and our waterways in particular,” said Blair Bowcott, General Manager Growth.
“We’re honouring all consents and connections we’ve already approved and will be working closely with developers who are currently in the middle of any consenting process to understand how any capacity issues might impact the timing of their developments.”
General Manager Development Chris Allen said Hamilton’s three waters infrastructure was designed to an appropriate standard at the time it was built, but it is now expected to perform to a much higher standard.
“As we grow into a much larger city parts of our networks are coming under pressure from new development including more people living on smaller sections. We’re also faced with new legislation and other environmental standards that mean our networks need to be even better to achieve the best outcomes for our rivers and streams.”
This includes stronger obligations to restore and protect the wellbeing of the Waikato River set out in Te Ture Whaimana o Te Awa o Waikato: the primary direction setting document for any activity that affects the Waikato River, he said.
“We’re constantly assessing our networks and investment programmes based on demand from new developments, how the network is performing in big storms and rain and when and what additional investments are required.
“We have been investing significantly in our networks and treatment plants over the past 10 years, and there’s some significant work happening over the next few years. But it is challenging to get the timing and investment exactly right when growth is allowed to happen in any location of the city,” Allen said.
“In some cases, we may need to slow some development down temporarily, so growth aligns with our investment programme”.
Bowcott said this makes Council’s strategic planning work to help guide investment spend over the next 30-years even more crucial. A recently revised Hamilton Urban Growth Strategy and response to housing intensification through Plan Change 12 are two levers used to do that.
“Through these significant pieces of work, we’ve signalled our focus on building up our central city and surrounds through changes to our planning rules and prioritising our investment spend in these areas.
“This gives developers more certainty on where our priorities are so they can make their own commercial decisions but also helps us meet our environmental obligations,” Bowcott said.
“We know there’s a lot of uncertainty facing councils and developers right now. Council has been proactively managing this issue for some time and the current advice we are giving developers is just another step to do that.”
Both Bowcott and Allen agreed “we want to provide as much certainty for our development community as we can, so we can all get on and deliver the housing we need for our city while helping to restore and protect the River.”
Developers are encouraged to contact Council early to get advice on any development proposals.