Category Archives: News

Hamilton West Town Belt – Stormwater

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One benefit of Hamilton’s stormwater system is that it is completely separate from the wastewater network. So the water quality and aquatic health of Hamilton urban streams is by design. For the West Town Belt (WTB) and the area east and west, a significant volume of stormwater is directed quickly into sunless drains. With increasing climate change, the frequency and intensity of storm events may result in fast-draining surfaces increasing down-stream flash flooding, risking injury or death to people and damage to property. In addition to planning for other weather extremes, such as droughts, allowing rain water to pond and be filtered as it seeps through the ground to recharge groundwater stores before emerging as springs in the banks near open water courses to improve water quality and encourage aquatic life, may be a better way to manage our water resources.

A couple of areas in Hamilton have flood retention systems, where dams and ponds provide temporary storage for excess stormwater, which then either soaks into the ground or is discharged into the stormwater network in a controlled way. The WTB should, by design, pond stormwater and allow gradual release to a watercourse after intense storm events. With the increasing likelihood of climate change, the value of water will increase, so the longer it is in our control the more we can get from it. A green belt presents advantages that no other form or disposition of open spaces can provide. For the WTB the optimal maximum surface ponding area is limited by what the political decision makers can accept. The underused Richmond St /Beetham Park car park is a prime example of the opposite of good future storm water management. This area should have measured amount of porous surfaces and allowed to pond in extreme weather events with a delayed release through planted swales to slow stormwater flow, capture contaminants and absorb water into the ground.


Category: News

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.