Owners oppose flood designation

JANINE RANKIN
Last updated 12:01 16/11/2012

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More than 100 Palmerston North homeowners could have part of their properties designated for flood protection that some argue is no longer needed.

Horizons Regional Council wants the designation over the Manawatu River's secondary stopbanks running from the Napier Rd drain, past the Ruamahanga wilderness area and along the length of the Palmerston North Golf Course.

Horizons district liaison co-ordinator Ian Lowe told the commissioners hearing submissions on proposed plan change 10 yesterday the stopbanks were an important part of the city's defences.

Although their role had been superseded by new primary stopbanks capable of withstanding a one-in-500-year flood, the secondary stopbanks were still needed, he said.

"Essentially, it buys us time," Mr Lowe said.

They created a ponding area between stopbanks to store stormwater, and would also contain flooding if there was a failure in the main bank for long enough to evacuate homes put at risk.

Mr Lowe argued that a designation would show up on land information maps when people considered buying the properties.

At the moment, there was no flag for newcomers that part of the privately-owned sections was needed for public safety.

However, three submitters argued the designation was not needed.

Ruamahanga Cres property owner Janita Stuart said there had been a long history of restrictions put on property owners' rights.

She said the secondary stopbanks, built on a natural terrace, had never been breached and were now redundant.

However, they were recognised under the almost-complete One Plan incorporating resource management controls of seven regional policies.

Under the plan, the remaining restrictions on property owners' rights includes a ban on excavations that would undermine the banks, or earthmoving that would impede access to them.

Commissioners Chris Mitchell and Stuart Kinnear both expressed misgivings about whether the designation was needed, although they accepted the point that there should be a way for future property owners to be alerted to the restrictions.

City council planner Daniel Batley said whether the designation could be considered reasonably necessary was "finely balanced".

Whatever the commissioners decide, their role is limited to making recommendations to Horizons, "the requiring authority", which retains a power of veto and can demand that the designation be imposed.

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- Manawatu Standard

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