Category Archives: News

Hamilton Gardens 1999 to 2028 – Long term budget

Dr Peter Sergel undertook a study trip in May and June, 2018, visiting gardens, specialist libraries, museums and universities. One focus of the trip was learning more about the next group of gardens planned for the Hamilton Gardens, including the Ancient Egyptian, European Picturesque, German Baroque, Medieval, Roman, English Landscape and French Parterre gardens. This involved trips to Egypt, England, France, Germany and Austria. He also met a number of garden managers to learn how some of the leading gardens in England, Singapore and America operate and address a variety of issues.

Imagine if Dr Sergel was given the freedom Baron Haussmann had in Paris; imagine if we allowed his imagination to overflow Cobham Drive into Grey St and across the river link into the Glenview Club/Peacockes area. Imagine if he was allowed to reimagine Ulster St – Te Rapa Straight. However this post is about Hamilton’s long term spending, looking 2 decades back and 1 decade forward. The 2015-25 and 2018-28 budgets have been generous.

Here is a snapshot of the Hamilton Garden’s management plans from 1999, 2014 and 2019

Hamilton Gardens Draft Management plan 1999 page 21

The Hamilton Gardens draft management plan from 1999 included 29 gardens, of which 19 were existing, 1 under development and 9 proposed.

The Hamilton Gardens operative plan 2014 included 32 gardens, of which 3 were under development and 9 proposed gardens were arranged in five garden collections. The draft plan received a total of 411 submissions. Of note is the reference to the primary objective of areas classified as Recreation Reserve: − “to allow the public freedom of entry and access”.

The Hamilton Gardens Management plan was not due for review for about decade after the 2014 Hamilton Garden Review. A early first review in 2019 of Hamilton Gardens draft management plan included 32 gardens, of which 15 were existing, 8 under development and like past plans 9 proposed. A key strategies of this early review was ‘to ease parking congestion’ (page 10) to the point car-parking becoming the centre of the Hamilton Gardens landscape. In 2020, a revision of Hamilton Gardens draft management plan was put to the community again which received 875 responses, common themes such as parking, alternative modes of transport and developing pedestrian access across the river was of interest to the people of Hamilton.

One proposed garden that does stand out is the E.6 BEE MEADOW – ‘that provide[s] food for bees and butterflies’. The Hamilton Gardens Bee Meadow idea should be seen as a benchmark example to be replicated throughout the city. Link to English web site on ‘Start a wildflower meadow’ 

Category: News

Parks and Gardens Land Purchases – Long term planning

In Lewis Mumford’s book The Culture of Cities (1938), he wrote: “When the Crown planned Regent’s Park in London the park itself was appreciated as a device for increasing the ground values of the neighbouring properties held by the Crown” (p. 111). Looking back at past Hamilton City Council long term plans (LTPs), we can see a number of recent large increases in spending that had not been budgeted for in earlier plans. The 2006-16 LTP explains the increase in the Parks and Gardens budget as “…strategic land purchases to provide recreational open space in the city’s new areas. All purchases will be funded by development contributions” (p. 26). If we look at ‘housing’ on the Reserve Bank’s inflation calculator it shows that housing costs increased by 88% between 2000 to 2006. The 1999-19 LTP had budgeted $400k for the year 2006 for land purchases, while in the 2006-16 LTP it was $17,756k, a 4000% increase. Hamilton’s population was 116,604 in 2001; it increased to 129,591 in 2006, representing an 11% increase.

In hindsight, we can see that when council underfunds land purchases for growth the cost of the catch-up is high. It is correct that “All purchases will be funded by development contributions” (2006-16 p.26) but the council has allowed a few land owners to dictate the timing for growth to the point that land values are out of reach for people new to the home ownership market.

Land purchases are more than “increasing the ground values of the neighbouring properties” (Mumford), and new storm water management is no longer about the wholesale piping of streams and uncontrolled discharges to rivers and lakes. A good example is the floodway planned in Rotokauri. This extension, coming from Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park through to Lake Rotokauri, has the potential to equal Hamilton Garden visitor numbers.

Strategic Growth Committee 20 Aug 2020 p98

The graph below shows spending for the past decade and predicted spending in the next decade; even though spending on land purchases looks ad hoc, the average house price and spending are not too far off parallel. “All purchases will be funded by development contributions”, which will be added to the price of new housing. The key line to focus on is the dotted wage inflation line: can the money come from future hard-working wage earners without making them slaves to a mortgage they can never repay?

Average House price is from Lodge Real Estate

The cost of a house is the outcome of council limiting land available, and the number of suppliers. “In the 1960s, 10% (278ha) of Hamilton city was zoned Residential High Density … The latest District Plan has it down to 2% (208ha)” and as Colin Jones (on behalf of Commercial & Industrial Consultants Ltd) notes in his submission to the Annual Plan 2020/21, Pages 3 & 25 of his attachment, “The concentrated landownership is of serious concern in that only 16 property owners control all the development ready land in Hamilton while in Christchurch, there are approximately 600. This has enabled some developers in Hamilton to achieve monopoly profits”.

Category: News