Environment Waikato has granted resource consent for a proposed walkway around Hamilton Lake.
Hamilton City Council had applied for consents to construct two jetties and a boardwalk, remove vegetation and undertake earthworks in a high risk erosion area of Lake Rotoroa. A total of 15 submissions were lodged jointly with Hamilton City Council and Environment Waikato by neighbours, 22 submissions were made to Hamilton City Council and 17 to Environment Waikato.
The work is to be done in three stages over three years, completing a section of walkway that will be available for public use.
A planning consultant representing a number of adjacent lakeside residents requested that the hearing be deferred or adjourned until further consultation had been undertaken with submitters, but this request was denied. The consent to undertake earthworks was no longer required as the design was changed in response to submitters' concerns about height, visual appearance and noise.
As a result of past subdivision of land adjacent to the lake, esplanade reserve existed around most of the area, or original domain reserve was still available. Parks and Gardens Manager Bill Featherstone detailed the reasons why night closure was not currently recommended and outlined public safety aspects. The walkway would be promoted as an interpretative nature walk with facilities along the walkway to allow users to enjoy and learn from the environment.
Other parties discussed effects on lake flora and fauna, and personal safety issues arising from the nearby Henry Bennett Centre.
Submitters were concerned about the effects on water quality and existing wildlife, the walkway being open at night, and incomplete landscaping plans which a planning consultant said disadvantaged submitters. Residents were concerned at the potential effect on their views and landscape, night noise and limited access to the lake caused by the walkway’s construction.
Environment Waikato staff said that, because of a change in construction material and methods, the construction was now a permitted activity under the Proposed Regional Plan so a consent was no longer required.
Any adverse effects on water quality could be avoided through specific control measures where practicable. Overall, the effects of the activity would be no more than minor.
The Committee unanimously approved the consent and said the applicant went to an extraordinary amount of effort to consult with the public and adjacent lakeside residents, and where possible tried to accommodate all identified issues. However, consensus had not been achieved for the proposed planting plan. Issues such as security and night closure were the function of Hamilton City Council rather than Environment Waikato, it said.
Overall, the Committee recognised the potential aesthetic and environmental benefits the proposed planting had for the lakeside reserve.