Waitawhiriwhiri to Ward, Town Belt – land use

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This post is a measure of land use in the breathing place known as Hamilton’s western town belt (WTB) area between Frankton, the central city, Waitawhiriwhiri stream and Ward Street. I’m still finding John Claudius Loudon’s writing on breathing zones a helpful reference. This is my reading of his writing (my emphasis):

“ In the country zones we should permit individuals, on proper conditions of rent and regulations, to establish all manner of rural coffee-houses, and every description of harmless amusement we would lay out as park and pleasure-ground scenery, and introduce in it all the plants, trees, shrubs which would grow in the open air, with innumerable seats, covered and uncovered, in the sun and in the shade … and other natural-looking scenes, with walks and roads, straight and winding, shady and open .. Breathing ground should be marked out as not being built on, for the sake of the health of the poorer part of the inhabitants … Breathing places will be found to present advantages which no other form or disposition of breathing places could produce … we hope, also, that the legislature may not think it unworthy of their attention to take into consideration the subject of breathing places, on some systematic plan, calculated for the benefit of all ranks in all parts of the British metropolis”

The green belt this post is looking at is about 35 hectares in total; I’ve measured 56% as not built on or enclosed. A third is enclosed/fenced, mostly for rugby (5 ha), followed by cricket (3.5 ha), golf (2.2 ha), bowls (1.1 ha), and tennis (0.4 ha). These uses do fit the description of “on proper conditions of rent and regulations, to establish all manner … of harmless amusement”. Sealed car parking areas (3 ha or 8%) don’t fit the “we would lay out as park and pleasure-ground scenery … natural-looking scenes”. Sadly, parking areas are irresistible to people who travel primarily by car and are involved in decision making, but they are not good for “plants, trees, shrubs which would grow in the open air”.

To finish I’ll have a short rant.

Every new enclosure within the green belt involves the infringement of somebody’s personal liberty, in a reverse way. Here it’s not entirely a question of taking something away from the public. Having paid events and organised sports is good for the city. But the risk to open spaces reappears in the form of ‘fouling our nest’ by needing to pipe away run-off because of large impervious surfaces, starving trees of water, and also creating delays in returning under-used fenced spaces to open public use.


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