Category Archives: Advocacy

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.


Hamilton’s west town belt 1913

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One of the goals of Hamilton Urban Blog is to promote the Hamilton Green Ring project

John Claudius Loudon’s 1829 proposal for ‘zones of country’, ‘breathing zones’ or ‘breathing places’ is shown as a belt that surrounds a city, similar to those in the proposed frontier towns to be built on confiscated land in the Waikato, including Hamilton’s original town belt. Over the years, the southern river link of Hamilton’s belt has come apart, with the sale of land for housing development and schools fencing their boundaries.

It is good that the council has increased park land area to the south. Also, the Hospital land is still in government ownership, including a parcel of land between the Lake, at 198 Pembroke St, linking to Selwyn St and the Hospital campus. This gives an option to link the Lake Path to the Hospital campus with an accessible path at a friendly gradient, suitable for 8- to 80-year-olds.

Looking to the northern part of the belt, the Waitawhiriwhiri stream and river area of the town belt is explained by Loudon (p. 690):

“In cases where towns and villages stretch along rivers, in very narrow vales, on the ridges of hills, or in narrow strips along the sea coast, these zones become unnecessary, because the surface of the land is supposed to be open on one or on both sides.”

My town belt drawing is based on the ‘Plan of Hamilton Borough and Frankton Borough’ which was drawn by Rob Airey in April 1913. The drawing includes the names of Surveyor General James Mackenzie, Chief Draughtsman Head Office Wellington, H.T.McCardell, and Chief Surveyor Auckland H.M.Skeet. This drawing is a bit more generous than earlier maps with regard to invasion/confiscation names. Hamilton Lake has the inclusion of its original name (Rotoroa), Te Rapa has moved north into Frankton borough as Te Rapa Parish, Pukete Parish is on the north side of Waitawhiriwhiri steam and Kirikiriroa Railway Station is in Claudelands

Category: Advocacy, News, Planning, Walking