Businesses brewing over housing plan

ANDREA O'NEIL
Last updated 05:00 28/07/2014
Business owners Chris Mills, left, and Natasha Dahlberg of Kereru Brewing Company, and Steve Matthews, of Rubber Solutions

NOISY AREA: Business owners Chris Mills, left, and Natasha Dahlberg of Kereru Brewing Company, and Steve Matthews, of Rubber Solutions, fear a housing development across the road will stifle manufacturing activity.

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Upper Hutt businesses fear a housing development bordering industrial land will jeopardise employment and industry, but the mayor has labelled the speculation "scaremongering".

Upper Hutt City Council will sell 17 blocks of former railway housing land, totalling 1.6 hectares, for a new housing development.

It hoped to fetch $2.8 million for the land, the sale paying for an astroturf on neighbouring Maidstone Park.

Kereru Brewing Company owner Chris Mills feared homeowners would complain about noise and traffic caused by the several dozen manufacturers in Railway Ave and Maidstone Tce, stifling business in the area.

"You are guaranteed to have conflict," Mills said.

"My impression is that there's been somewhat of a hasty approach so Upper Hutt City Council can make a bit of money, without thinking through the long-term implications."

An Environment Court commissioner approved the council's plan in May, but few businesses knew of the proposed sale and even fewer opposed it, Mills said.

He had put up posters throughout the neighbourhood encouraging businesses to make submissions, and was considering an appeal to the Environment Court.

Kereru employed five locals, and planned to expand in coming years, upping staff numbers and working through the night.

Businesses should have been consulted on the sale, said Steve Matthews, owner of rubber recycling company Rubber Solutions.

"Nobody contacted us saying ‘you're a stakeholder'. We were furious about that."

Matthews worried a retirement village was planned for the site, and said elderly residents would be very sensitive to noise. He questioned how many dwellings would be built.

"We're busy running our bloody business. We don't need to be worrying about this."

Mayor Wayne Guppy said 70 houses originally sat on the land in question, and the council did not want to hurt businesses. Density of housing was yet to be worked out, but any talk of high rises was "scaremongering", he said.

"There was no way in the world that we'll be doing anything that will affect the industry there."

A no-complaints covenant on the land would prevent residents from restricting manufacturing activity, Guppy said.

Plans to sell the land had been in place since 2010, and the council needed to cater for population growth of 5 per cent per year, he said.

But councillor Hellen Swales, one of four councillors to oppose the land sale, said 700 homes would be built on former AgResearch land in Wallaceville, and Railway Ave land should be kept in case Maidstone Park's sports facilities needed to expand with Upper Hutt's population.

"I think it's very short-sighted of the council."

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- The Dominion Post

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