Upper Hutt moves to protect Southern Hills

17:56, May 22 2013

New rules aim to protect a spine of bush-covered hills that act as a green backdrop to Upper Hutt.

However, some residents say the measures do not go far enough to safeguard the swath of land.

The Upper Hutt City Council yesterday agreed on a plan change that seeks to manage development in the Southern Hills, which separate Upper Hutt city from the Mangaroa and Whitemans valleys.

It also aims to boost ridge line protection outside the area.

The plan change follows a 2008 study that found the Southern Hills area was unusual in that it retained a lot of native bush, close to a large area of city.

It does not ban all development, as requested by some submitters, but now says any work should not harm the area's natural features.

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''Contouring land, re-vegetating earthworked areas, screen planting, locating buildings among existing vegetation or below the skyline, or modifying the colour or reflectivity of ... buildings ... are examples of measures that may avoid, remedy or mitigate the adverse effects.'

A hearing panel considered 35 submissions, with more than half asking for the area to be totally protected from development, but the panel found that a balanced approach was best.

Extra land could always be protected by the creation of reserves or through trusts, it said.

Upper Hutt resident Antoon Kooij yesterday said the plan change did not go far enough. He described the process as ''a farce''.

The Dominion Post