Environment Waikato has granted resource consents for a river path walkway from Ann St to the end of the St Andrews golf course in Hamilton.
Hamilton City Council proposed to construct the river path and required consents to undertake earthworks along the Waikato Riverbank and work in the beds of gullies. Seven submissions were made to Hamilton City Council by Cycle Action Waikato, neighbours, Mighty River Power Ltd and Tui 2000. Fifteen submissions were made to Environment Waikato.
The City Council intended to construct a walkway along the west side, or left bank, of the Waikato River to connect with a previously completed section of walkway at the southern end of the St Andrews golf course.
Submitters were concerned with the proposed width of the walkway to protect as many existing native trees as possible. Cycle Action Waikato wanted handrails included so the walkway also had potential to become a cycleway.
Other submitters were concerned about security fencing and requested night closure of the walkway. The City Council said it did not intend to widen the walkway as requested by cycle Action Waikato, but the organisation's request for the handrail height to be raised could be addressed at a later date.
The application was for a walkway, as the current policy for the reserve allowed only a walkway on the esplanade reserve and more public consultation would be needed for it to become a cycleway. Current City Council policy was for fences to be constructed on the boundary of reserves, so the Council was willing to provide a fence along the boundary of submitter’s property and the reserve.
Environment Waikato staff considered that the effects of constructing the walkway would be no more than minor.
The Committee recognised the concerns about the potential safety and security hazards, but stated that the provision of fencing and night closure was a City Council function.
In granting the consents, the Committee recognised the potential aesthetic and environmental benefits the proposal had for the Waikato River esplanade reserve.