Planning is under way on what will be the most technically difficult stretch of the Hutt Valley Floodway Management Plan.
With the upgrade of the Boulcott stopbank well ahead of schedule, Greater Wellington Regional Council has started looking at the last stage, known as the City Centre Reach.
Central Ward committee member Alison McKone said she was surprised at a meeting with regional council staff to hear the design now included the Melling side of the river, which could affect housing in Pharazyn St and the area around Melling Station.
Project manager Graeme Campbell said the project was at an early stage and it would be a long time before decisions were made.
Channel widening had always been envisaged south of Melling Bridge on the city side of the river with potentially a major impact on the riverbank car park, Daly St and possibly Dudley St.
Channel widening would play a major role in reducing the impact of flooding by increasing the river's capacity.
Mr Campbell confirmed the council was now looking at the Melling side but emphasised that did not mean any decisions had been made.
It was also too early to say whether the $21 million budgeted for the project would be sufficient.
So many factors complicate the planning of the City Centre Reach of the floodway protection scheme it is quite possible work will not be finished by the calculated 2021.
Greater Wellington Regional Council project leader Graeme Campbell said complications include:
- The bottleneck caused by the Melling Bridge and Harvey Norman building. Plans to replace the bridge are on hold and New Zealand Transport Agency does not regard it as a road of national significance.
- Uncertainty over the future of the Melling Interchange.
- Hutt City Council has several plans linking the central city with the river as part of its Making Places project.
Mr Campbell said ideally, the regional and city councils would sit down with the agency to produce a co- ordinated design that would include flood protection but agency funding is tight. Planning for the Boulcott upgrade was complex but he predicts the final design for the next stage, is going to be a major headache.
The design is unlikely to include the removal of the Harvey Norman building but the floodway upgrade is likely to affect parking near the retail building, he said.
Another issue that is still unclear is the timetable for the removal of homes in Mills St.
Work on the City Centre Reach is scheduled to begin in 2015/16 but he said the complexity of the design means it is hard to put a date on when work near Mills St will begin.
Mr Campbell plans to hold a meeting with residents next month but he said some people want the work to begin as soon as possible, while others want it scheduled last.
- Hutt News