REVIEW CRITICAL OF KDC CONSENT PROCESSING 17.09.2019
Many of those seeking RMA consents may have had doubts about the competence of the KDC consent staff and the reasonableness and correctness of their decisions. Most do not dispute such decisions because of the extra costs and delay. Even professionals and consultants seem to be reticent in challenging KDC planning decisions.
I have been closely involved in FENZ debacle and have been alarmed at the way in which the KDC staff have treated the issue. Whilst the staff were cooperative during the mediation process, things changed dramatically once the changes to the District Plan had to be implemented. It almost seemed as if FENZ had taken over the KDC and was setting criteria that totally ignored the RMA and the amendments to the District Plan.
It is reassuring for all of us who harbour these concerns that we are not alone. Barker & Associates (B&A) have just released the Kaipara District Council – Independent Planning Functions Review: 31 July 2019.
The review is an indictment of the competence of the KDC in the planning area and vindicates the views of those who at times feel they have been held to ransom by an out of control KDC planning department.
Some of the findings of the review are set out below. For those who want to read the full litany of criticisms the review can be found in the KDC Agenda of its August Council Meeting. Scroll down to page 25.
The review is not just critical of the KDC’s past performance. It also doubts its competence for the future. The KDC is already planning its next District Plan and holding meetings to try and develop a spatial plan which will be the basis for the new District Plan. The current District Plan cost over $5 million but has been a shambles. The review describes it more gently. It criticises “the lack of District Plan clarity which is creating confusion and differing interpretations”.
The new District Plan, which will cost even more, is boasted as being the new way to the future of Kaipara. In fact it is nothing more than a way of pouring ratepayers money down the gullets of consultants, and justifying unnecessary planning staff within the KDC. The B&A review doubts that the KDC has the competence for the task ahead:
The existing Policy Team will be lacking resourcing and expertise leading into the District Plan review, given the lack of planners in the team and the scale and complexity of the task.
The B&A review will be a major challenge for the KDC. There have been several instances where the KDC, its staff and some of its elected members have shown themselves to be out of touch with the views and the best interests of ratepayers. The KDC’s much vaunted transparency and openness sounds very hollow at times and serves to disguise a culture of secrecy and lack of consultation.The KDC is fast losing the confidence of ratepayers. It will be interesting to see if the B&A review will be given a pauper’s secret burial or whether the KDC will openly front up and “fess up” to ratepayers.
Some extracts from the B&A Review
Unreasonable consent conditions have been a major quibble. The reviews states: “Conditions were not necessarily drafted to be clear, specific or enforceable, which is a legal requirement. Some conditions were at risk of being ultra-vires.” That means that some conditions were possibly unlawful. The KDC staff’s interpretation of the District Plan was also highlighted:
Conflicting advice and interpretations of the District Plan is being received from KDC staff which was acknowledged to be a result of a lack of experience and knowledge of the staff as well as the nature of the plan; decisions between the staff are inconsistent.
“Processing time for consents, particularly simple consents, is too long”, and some “processes are perceived as too bureaucratic and time and cost expensive”. In some instances “the need for some resource consents was questioned”.
“Consistently non-RMA or non-relevant questions are being asked of applications which are outside of the scope of the consent process: there is a sense of confusion between compliance and the actual requirements of consents under the District Plan.”
One sample concerning the rejection of an application was “highly irregular, poorly communicated, and potentially procedurally incorrect”. The review warned:
Not implementing the RMA correctly in [the rejection process] is increasing risk of court challenge and negative Ministry of Environment review findings if they were to be audited.
The work of some outside consultants employed by the KDC is criticised as lacking “quality and consistency in the outputs, particularly in resource consent processing and decisions”. Their work “is inconsistent with Council’s quality standards and with the work being undertaken by in-house staff members”.
Many consent holders have complained of the way they have been treated by KDC planning staff. The review states that “customer responses are not being delivered to the customer well”. Communication from the planners is reported as being “overcomplicated” and “the customer appears to be feeling a lack of respect”. “The consent planners can be difficult to contact with staff often not being responsive via emails or phone calls”.
KDC REVEALS NEW OFFICES PLANS - FINALLY 14.09 2019
It didn’t take very long. The KDC has kept its deal with the NRC secret for months. I sent a copy of yesterday’s post revealing the plans to the Mayor, Councillors and KDC Chief Executive early yesterday. By the evening the NRC/KDC had issued a media release revealing some details of the plans.
The media release is in the name of the NRC but was posted on the KDC website yesterday evening. It can be viewed here.
The media release was clearly an opportunity for the spin-meisters at the NRC and KDC to come up with all sorts of justifications for the project, including Kauri die-back and Mycoplasma bovis.
KDC Chief Executive, Louise Miller, states that the project is “a strong financial decision”, but clearly one that ratepayers – who will be paying all the bills - have no say in. She notes that KDC Councillors have already “given their blessing” to the new shared building concept. That clearly means that the KDC does not intend to consult with ratepayers.
On the other hand, the plans are subject to the approval of new NRC Council that will be elected in the next few weeks.
What of the old KDC owned building that houses its current offices? It will be vacated, "remediated", and “redeveloped for other services”. According to the spin:
This working together allows for future opportunities to work closer in the future.
If this decision was a “significant decision” (defined by KDC staff according to the KDC’s Significance and Engagement Policy) then the KDC was obliged to go through a formal consultation process with ratepayers before making its decision. Even if the decision was not considered to be significant then the KDC was still obliged to consider the various options, and the advantages and disadvantages of each option. It was also obliged to give consideration to the views of ratepayers (but without necessarily consulting with them).
The report on the proposal prepared by KDC staff, and considered by Councillors before voting on the issue, has been kept secret. That report needs to be made public. We need to know the options, the costs, and the effect on the rates. In addition we need to know which Councillors voted for the proposal or against the proposal. It would also be appropriate for those candidates standing for election to express their views on the plans and on the fact that there was no consultation with ratepayers.
KDC’S SECRET PLAN FOR NEW DARGAVILLE OFFICES REVEALED 13.09.2019
A couple of different sources have revealed the KDC’s plans to spend a substantial sum of money in establishing new Council Offices in a brand new building in Dargaville.
It has all been done in secret without any consultation with ratepayers.
The first inkling came in the KDC’s “Kaipara Spotlight” on the back page of the Kaipara Lifestyler of 3 September 2019. It revealed that remediation work is to be carried out on the KDC owned properties at 37 and 42 Hokianga Road, Dargaville. They are the War Memorial Hall and the Council Offices respectively. The Hall has extensive issues and a repair budget of $600,000 has been allocated.
The Council Offices were built in the 1960s and have weather tightness issues with mould, and minor instances of asbestos. The cost of remediation has not been revealed and will be programmed for future years.
Interestingly, these proposals were omitted from the KDC’s “Kaipara Spotlight” on the back page of the Mangawhai Focus of 2 September 2019.
This news raises interesting questions about the future of the current Council Offices. When will the remediation work commence? What will it cost? Will the KDC be able to operate from the building while the remediation is carried out?
The proposals are reported as fact in the Kaipara Liifestyler, so presumably the decisions have already been made by the KDC. That would have involved a report on the remediation issues and a decision by the elected members on the various options.
I checked the agendas and minutes of the latest Council meeting but could find no reference to the decision. That means that it was decided in “public excluded”, or secretly. No advice to ratepayers and no consultation.
What I did find however was a brief note in the agenda for the KDC Council meeting of 29 August 2019 (Item 3.3 on page 151). It states very succinctly that the KDC has agreed to lease space in a new NRC building in Dargaville.
I figured that the NRC might be more open about such a proposal so I searched the NRC website to see if I could find out what it was all about. I came across a report from the NRC Chairman in June this year. It states:
As part of our council’s Shared Services programme with other councils we have been discussing the building of a new office building in Dargaville to share with the Kaipara District Council.
We are expanding our field staff in the Kaipara and Kaipara District Council’s offices no longer meet their operational requirements. Therefore, a new purpose-built building to be shared by the two councils makes great sense. Our council will provide the capital and KDC will become an anchor tenant.
Both councils get the office accommodation that they need to carry out efficient operations and our joint ratepayers get the savings that result. A classic win/win!
This refers to the property at 32 Hokianga Road Dargaville which was purchased by the NRC in late 2017. Presumably the current building on the property will be demolished and a new purpose-built building will be constructed, part of which will be leased to the KDC.
NRC Councillor Penny Smart of the NRC in front of the property at 32 Hokianga Road Dargaville where the new NRC building will be constructed.
Clearly that proposal has now been finalised. It is not known how long it will be before the new building is ready for occupation by the KDC.
So, it appears, the KDC will eventually be vacating its current offices in Dargaville and moving into the new offices in the NRC building. It will be moving from its own property where no rent is payable to a new building where, no doubt, substantial rent will be payable and the cost of fit-out into suitable offices will be considerable. So the cost implications are significant.
That also leaves a question mark over the current Council Offices that are owned by the KDC. The decision on remediation has been made. But to what end? Is the KDC going to occupy both buildings? Or is the old building to be sold once the defects have been fixed. If so, is there a market for such a building in Dargaville given the empty commercial buildings?
Is the cost involved justifiable given the debt situation of the KDC, and also given the likelihood of Kaipara being swallowed up into a larger super council in the not too distant future?
Ratepayers can only speculate at what is happening and for what reasons. It appears that this is another “done deal” of the KDC. Done in secret and without any consultation; not even the perfunctory consultation with ratepayers that it usually undertakes.
I am not sure of the legal implications at this stage. I recall a similar discovery when we found that the KDC had, in “public excluded”, secretly increased the cost of the EcoCare sewerage system. The KDC had acted in blatant breach of the provisions of the Local Government Act 2002 and the High Court subsequently held the decision to be unlawful.
It would appear to me, without knowing anything about the process that the KDC went through to make the decisions that it has made, that this may be a significant decision and the KDC may be in breach of section 76 of the Local Government Act 2002 by failing to consult with ratepayers. That section states:
(1) Every decision made by a local authority must be made in accordance with such of the provisions of sections 77, 78, 80, 81, and 82 as are applicable.
The other sections referred to require consultation with ratepayers. (For those who want to pursue the matter further you will find the sections referred to here.)
There is a Court of Appeal decision that held that the Bay of Plenty Regional Council breached the provisions of the Local Government Act 2002 when it resolved to shift its offices from Whakatane to Tauranga. It consulted with ratepayers but only after the decision was made. In that instance the offices moved from one town to another. (For those interested the judgment can be accessed here.)
Clearly any resolution approving the proposals must have been passed by the elected representatives. Why did they do so without consulting ratepayers? Why did they do so in secret? Was it because they feared that the decisions would not sit well with ratepayers and reflect badly on them in the upcoming council election?
Did they want to present the proposals as a done deal after the elections when ratepayers could no longer express their support or opposition through either consultation or the ballot-box?
Mayor Smith and his councillors have a lot of explaining to do to ratepayers before the election gets into full swing.
MOIR STREET FOOTPATH - FACTS AND FIGURES 06.09.2019
The Workboot Councillor, Jonathan Larsen, provides some very important facts and figures on the Moir Street situation on his website.
It appears that there was virtually no consultation with the community on the project. It also seems that the costs bear no relation to those set out in the Mangawhai Community Plan. This is what the MCP says:
Stage one – slow street Mangawhai Village Shared path and landscaping from: - Mangawhai School to Insley/Moir Streets intersection - Tara Bridge to Pearson Street (including Mangawhai Domain) $300,000
That includes three legs: Insley Street from the school to the Moir Street intersection. Moir Street from Tara bridge to the Insley Street intersection. From the Moir Stree/Insley Street intersection to Pearson Street. Total cost $300,000. It is unclear if that means the total cost or the cost after subsidies. Let's be generous and take the latter.
This current contract is for 750 metres of one leg only and only goes from the Tara bridge to about as far as the church on Moir Street. The contract price is $524,501.75. The cost to the community after a NZTA subsidy is 39 % of the total which comes to $204,555.68. On the basis of the total cost for the three legs being $300,000, as stated in the MCP, that leaves $95,400 to complete the Moir Street leg and the other two legs. On a rough calculation, and based on the current contract price, it looks like the total cost to the community will be somewhere north of $600,000. Twice as much as the amount consulted on.
Those who have been in Mangawhai through the financial debacles of the McKerchar regime, do you get a sense of deja vue?
THE FENZ DEBACLE - WHAT IS THE KDC'S SECRET AGENDA? 06.09.2019
Many people are asking me what has happened about the Commissioners' rejection of dedicated water tanks for firefighting. After all, it is more than 2 years since the hearing on Plan Change 4, and the Commissioners' decision was released in December 2017.
Have those ghastly tanks, which have blighted Magical Mangawhai, gone for good?
It is a long and very unfortunate story that does no credit to the KDC and how its is operating as a consent authority. I have been somewhat reluctant to reveal the details of what has been going on in the hope that someone in the KDC would take control of errant staff who appear to have agendas of their own. The KDC has by-passed the decision of the Commissioners and amendments to the District Plan, agreed in mediation, and effectively set FENZ up as a consent authority under the RMA at the subdivision stage. The rules that FENZ now applies are more far-reaching than the rules under its code of practice that were previously applied.
In 2013 when the Commissioners were in power the KDC adopted the Fire Service’s code of practice as part of its new District Plan. it did so without any consideration of its content and implications for the community, and without any consultation with the community as required by the Resource Management Act. At the time there was a clear conflict of interest as Beca acted as consultant to the KDC and to the Fire Service.
That decision and the implementation of the code of practice has created a festering sore between the KDC and the Mangawhai community for the past 6 years. The code of practice is actually a voluntary code that is only relevant to urban areas with a reticulated water supply. It does not apply to Mangawhai and other townships with tank water supply. The Fire Service, now Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ), stepped outside its statutory authority and included non-reticulated areas in the code. It pressured the KDC into making it compulsory by including it in its District Plan.
The code contains rules that are extreme, illogical and completely inappropriate for New Zealand conditions. Despite universal condemnation of the rules, the KDC insisted on compliance at huge cost to those building and to the detriment of the visual amenities of Mangawhai. A sudden proliferation of concrete tanks turned Magical Mangawhai into a Tank Town.
Under community pressure the KDC tried to soften the effect of the code of practice with Plan Change 2. That was rejected by the community and followed by Plan Change 4. That again was rejected by the community. Tinkering around the edges was not enough, the community wanted the code of practice to be completely deleted from the District Plan. A hearing on Plan Change 4 was held before Commissioners in 2017. After hearing submissions from myself and others on behalf of the community, the Commissioners decided that the rules of the code of practice were unreasonable. The amount of dedicated water for firefighting was irrelevant to the risk of fire. All references to the code were deleted from the District Plan.
The victory for the Community was short-lived. FENZ appealed the Commissioners' decision to the Environment Court, which ordered mediation between the parties. There followed a series of meetings between KDC consent staff and the representatives of the section 274 parties - those ratepayers who supported the Commissioners’ decision. I ended up as the sole representative of the ninety odd section 274 parties.
In law the decision of the Commissioners was the decision of the KDC, so the community and the KDC were on the same side fighting FENZ. We fought hard to have the code deleted from the Plan. However FENZ threatened to proceed to a hearing in the Environment Court unless the decision of the Commissioners was modified. A compromise was eventually reached. The code of practice was to be referred to as an advisory reference only and it was agreed that at the subdivision stage the adequacy of water for firefighting was to be satisfied if 10,000 litres of water was likely to be available from any source within 90 metres of the proposed building platform. Council staff agreed that in virtually every situation a building with a single domestic water tank would meet the requirements of the rule.
FENZ accepted the compromise, the amendments were endorsed by order of the Environment Court, and the District Plan was amended accordingly and adopted by the KDC in Decembers 2018.
Subsequent moves by the KDC and FENZ
That is when the KDC staff who agreed to the compromise went off on a tangent. I don’t know what happened exactly but it appears that they cosied up to FENZ and started modifying the terms of the compromise agreement and completely misinterpreting and misapplying the new provisions in the Plan and the decision of the Commissioners. I tried to draw them back to the agreed terms but they ignored my approaches and refused to meet with me. I drafted a legal opinion pointing out that the staff were acting in breach of the amended terms of the District Plan and were introducing an assessment criteria that was not in the Plan, and was in breach of the RMA. In addition, FENZ was acting as a consent authority under the RMA which was in blatant breach of its limited powers under the FENZ Act which sets out its statutory powers. I sent to the legal opinion to the chief executive, Mayor Smith and all of the councillors urging them to take action. There was no response.
The end result is that the KDC has come up with a risk assessment document as part of the subdivision consent process that goes way beyond the legal scope of the amended provisions in the District Plan. It contains requirements that are even more draconian than anything that was in the deleted code of practice. The KDC has also allowed FENZ to set itself up illegally as a consent authority under the RMA. FENZ now has its own application form with requirements which have nothing to do with rules in the KDC District Plan. Private planning consultants and the KDC all appear to be deferring to FENZ.
I have written to the KDC chief executive Louise Miller pressing her to interfere and rein in the consent staff of council. No response. I spoke to Mayor Smith two weeks ago. He knew of the issue, was shocked at what has happened, and assured me that he and the councillors were taking action to remedy the situation. He also said that he had not seen the legal opinion that I sent to him. He asked me not to publish anything just yet as things were about to happen. Two weeks on and nothing has happened, at least that I have been informed of.
All this is happening just as an independent review has come out slamming the performance and competence of the KDC as a consent authority under the RMA. I will report on that in the next few days.
If you have been subjected to the new subdivision consent conditions imposed by the KDC and FENZ, Then I would appreciate receiving a copy. No details of names or property etc would be publicly revealed, just details of the conditions being imposed. Please send to email@example.com
PATUONE WALKWAY - 'just nuts' 05.09.2019
Auckland City has its own issues with a walkway through a reserve. See the NZ Herald article here.
SPATIAL PLAN MEETINGS 03.09.2019
I attended the first meeting last Friday 30 August at 2:30 pm.
The whole point of the meeting was to seek contributions from residents on the future development of Mangawhai so that their hopes and visions could be included as part of the new district plan and guide the development of Mangawhai for the next 30 years.
It was a bit of a fizzer.
Plans for the future must necessarily be based on the limitations of the infrastructure that is or will be available. The problem is that no one at the meeting had any idea where Mangawhai stands at present and what is actually feasible.
The presenter, Michael, from the consultant Kobus was friendly and receptive but, as he admitted, he does not yet have any detailed knowledge about Mangawhai. There was no one from the KDC to provide the vital information on which residents could base their opinions.
A major a factor for the future is the roading access to Mangawhai. There were vague ideas about opening up Cove Road as a by-pass but the traffic will still come in via Insley Street and cause congestion at the Moir Street intersection. A by-pass to avoid that intersection is apparently not on the cards but there was no one at the meeting to advise on the options and the funding available from central government.
Mangawhai Central is a biggie. If it goes ahead, it will dictate the future of Mangawhai - how it is structured and how it will grow. As someone said at the meeting, there are a lot of Chinese whispers being circulated about the developers and the uncertainty of their financial backing. We all remember at the meeting last year when the developers promised that they would not take any steps without consulting the community. Not a whisper since.
Water is a major issue. The developers of Mangawhai Central promised that they would to provide their own water, from a damn in the Brynderwyns as I recall. Now the KDC has confirmed that Mangawhai Central has applied to the NRC to draw water from the main aquifer in Mangawhai. Experts suggest that it will deplete water supplies for all those others who are tapped into the aquifer, included the emergency water suppliers who supply domestic water when tanks run dry in summer.
What is the situation?
We paid $62.4 million for the current wastewater system. It was called EcoCare but is now known as the MCWWS (Mangawhai Community Waste Water Scheme). It was supposed to cost less than half that price but price increases were secretly and unlawfully agreed to by the KDC under Mayor Tiller and chief executive Jack McKerchar. The incompetence of the KDC under the Tiller regime resulted in a massive blow-out in cost and resulted in a system that never met the specifications that were promised. Ratepayers were told that the system would service 4,500 properties and would service Mangawhai well into the future. The reality is that at present it only services just over 2,000 properties and only then because further investment has been made in the plant and the disposal system.
Apparently, and there is no hard information, the treatment plant has a little further capacity, but the disposal fields will soon reach capacity and a new disposal system will be needed. A couple of years ago the community advisory panel appointed by the Commissioners did extensive water tests and considered the options for alternative disposal of the water from the treatment plant. Nothing appears to have come of those investigations.
Is the MCWWS adequate?
Most of the current debt of the KDC is attributed to the sewerage system debacle. According to the Long Term Plan (LTP) $20.2 million of the debt incurred on the MCWWS has been allocated to the" future community", based on anticipated growth That means those who move to Mangawahai over the next 30 years. Only 50 per cent of the interest is paid on that amount through the general rate and paid by all ratepayers throughout Kaipara. The other 50 per cent of the interest is capitalised and added to the debt. The LTP anticipates that it will take 30 years to pay off the current debt on the MCWWS. However, while the next few generations are paying of the old debt, further new debt is going to be incurred to increase the capacity of the system. The Mangawhai Community Plan on page 25 sets out the anticipated costs of extending the current plant and disposal system:
Extending the wastewater scheme including the number of connections
Extend irrigation system, upgrade existing reticulation and extend reticulation, augment treatment plant. Priority 2018-2020. Cost $5.72 million
Extend reticulation. Priority 2021-2014. Cost $6.17 million
Extend reticulation and augment treatment plant. Priority 2025-028. Cost $5.87 million.
New disposal system, extend reticulation and augment treatment plant. Priority 2028 onwards. Cost $17.0 million.
The MCP states: It is considered development contributions will be the main funding stream.
However the 2018/2028 Long Term Plan contradicts this by stating that the cost over 10 years to 2018 will be $20.05 million ‘funded through debt”.
The KDC has now confirmed that Mangawhai Central will, if it goes ahead, connect to the existing sewerage system. The facts and figures tell us that is that the MCWWS could not cope with that number of connections. Will that mean a new sewerage system? That will have to be funded by debt. And yet we will still be paying off the debt on the old MCWWS for the next 30 years.
The status of the MCWWS sits behind an impenetrable wall with the KDC reluctant ro reveal any realistic facts and figures. If the community is going to have an effective input into the future of Mangawhai then the KDC and its consultants need to come up with some hard facts on which our vision for the future can be based.
Is the KDC competent enough to provide the guidance, the planning and the consent processes that ensure that the future vision for Kaipara is achieved?
Most of those seeking building or resource consents over the past few years will tell a story of a KDC that appears to go out of its way with to make it difficult for any consent applicant, imposing conditions that appear inappropriate, arbitrary and unnecessary. The result is delay, high cost, poor design, and a community that has lost trust and confidence in the KDC as a consent authority.
Even the MCP community panel agreed with some of those criticisms. It had this to say at page 7 of its feedback document:
Feedback from the community is that poor urban design in some recent subdivisions has contributed to a loss of character and amenity in Mangawhai. Examples referred to include poor pedestrian connections, inappropriate fencing, poor location of building platforms, garages, above-ground water tanks, large areas of concrete and removal of vegetation. In many cases the Mangawhai Design Guidelines included in the District Plan, which were created to mitigate these issues, appear to have been ignored.
An Independent Planning Functions Review was presented at the Council meeting on 29 August 2019. It was an independent audit of the processes and procedures used in the assessment of resource consents processed by the KDC.
The conclusions of the Review are not pretty reading. I will go into more detail in a later post, but the Review confirms the opinions of many consent applicants about the poor standard of the KDC’s consent processes. Perhaps one of the most telling comments relevant to the Spatial Plan and the proposed new District Plan is:
The existing Policy Team will be lacking resourcing and expertise leading into the District Plan review, given the lack of planners in the team and the scale and complexity of the task.
The community’s vision for the future? Well that depends on the KDC and its consultant providing the real facts and figures, and on the KDC taking steps to improve its game and earning the trust of the community.
MOIR STREET FOOTPATH - GOING, GOING , GONE 03.09.2019
The concrete footpath outside the Domain in Moir Street has gone.
CONTINUOUS COASTAL WALKWAY – some hard facts 01.09.2019
We are hearing a lot about the continuous coastal walkway these days. It played a very minor role in the Mangawhai Community Plan (MCP) but in recent months it has appeared to consume a lot of the KDC staff’s time and an awful lot of money. That’s ratepayers’ money.
What is the MCP?
The MCP is a vision for the future of Mangawhai. It was largely the work of a panel of community advisers appointed by the KDC Commissioners in mid-2016. The draft was adopted by the KDC in July 2017. It was consulted on with ratepayers and over 100 submissions were received.
The MCP came to life a couple of months ago when the KDC tried to construct a 2.4 metre wide gravel joint cycle track/walkway through the heart of the grassed Alamar Crescent beach reserve. When confronted by the locals the staff said that it was a “done deal” and the contract had been let. They stated that the ratepayers has been consulted on the project through the MCP and the KDC was simply carrying out the community’s wishes. The KDC clearly took the view that it had carte blanche to proceed with the various projects without any further consultation or input from the community.
In the face of the protest the KDC backed down and went back to the drawing board.
Continuous coastal walkway
The KDC and consultant Resilio got together and came up with a completely new, very detailed proposal for a continuous coastal walkway from the Heads beach right through to Mangawhai Village.
The KDC held a couple of open days in June followed by an online survey. It was called a feasibility study but it appeared to be more of a tick the desired option box without any consideration of desirability, or feasibility to assess if ratepayers wanted or could afford the proposals.
The online survey was difficult to find. For some reason the KDC’s new website only has historic references to the MCP. For those who could locate the survey it was very simple. It had options to tick for the type of finish for the walkway (gravel, timber, etc) for each leg of the project. No costs were mentioned, or who was going to pay. It was like a menu for a multicourse meal that you were invited to order from but with no idea how much each course cost, and more importantly, who was footing the bill.
Somewhat surprisingly the detailed proposals are no longer available on the internet.
The next step is, apparently, that the panel appointed by the Commissioners will advise the KDC on what the ratepayers want and then work with a representative of the residents adjacent to that leg of the walkway to decide what that leg of the walkway will entail and what it will be constructed from.
In the next few weeks the community will need to decide whether it agrees with the philosophy behind the coastal walkway. Do we want a formed walkway along every metre of the Mangawhai coastline? Or do we just want to walk on the beaches and the grass reserves? Should the walkway be available for cyclists and, inevitably, electric scooters? Is it feasible to make such a walkway accessible for all, even those in wheelchairs?
As I understand it, only those who live alongside each leg of the walkway will have a say in that part of the development. And yet the MCP is funded by all ratepayers in the greater Mangawhai area stretching to Baldrock Road, and all residents and visitors will use the walkway
It is fine to present a smorgasbord of options for the construction of the walkway, but there is no mention of the cost and who pays. We all have wish-lists in life but that is necessarily tempered by affordability. The cost of the MCP has the potential for being another financial black-hole. The MCP itself states that the total cost of the MCP over ten years is $26.9 million and close to $50 million to completion. However, it has just been revealed by the consultants that the continuous coastal walkway - which was scarcely mentioned in the MCP and was costed at $1.742 million – is on its own going to cost $15 million. That figure is based on all legs of the walkway being constructed in the most expensive way.
he Community Advisory Panel’s input contained this comment on finance:
Just like a household a Council must live within its means. As Council seeks to provide the infrastructure to support a growing community, it must ensure that it is affordable for the community which ultimately pays the bill.
The panel recommended to Council:
Develop a financial strategy to support the draft Mangawhai Community Plan so there is clear visibility on cost implications of the Plan and how it will be funded.
Council has failed to provide the community with details of the cost of the project. According to the latest Long Term Plan it is funded through a 20% district-wide general rate and an 80% differential rate levied on properties located within the Mangawhai Harbour Restoration area which extends to Baldrock Road.
To get some idea of the walkway’s impact on rates, divide $15 million by the approx 4,000 targeted properties in greater Mangawhai. Each property will have to pay $3,750 for the walkway alone.
Time for some serious reflection on what we want as a community.
MOIR STREET MADNESS? 29.08.2019
The latest public relations disaster of the KDC is unfolding in Moir Street outside the Domain. A 2.4 metre wide concrete shared path has been constructed opposite the Domain. It is apparently the first stage of the “slow street” part of the Mangawhai Community Plan (MCP). The shared use means that it is footpath and cycle way and will eventually extend to the Insley Street junction and then eventually along the causeway to the Heads.
You will find no details of the MCP on the KDC website. It has its own separate website and the information on the slow street proposals can be found under Projects here.
There is also a link to a fact sheet.
More information can be found in the MCP itself. This can be found here.
In the MCP it is the first stage of the “slow street” on page 23. Details and costings are shown. P1 means priority 1 which indicates that it will be completed between 2018 and 2020.
Stage one – slow street Mangawhai Village Shared path and landscaping from: - Mangawhai School to Insley/Moir Streets intersection - Tara Bridge to Pearson Street (including Mangawhai Domain) P1 $300,000
Roundabout at Insley/Moir Streets intersection P1 $1,000,000
Roundabout at Moir Street/Molesworth Drive intersection. P1 $882,900
Review parking provisions PI TBC (to be costed)
Improved arrival experience from the south. P1 Included above
I understand that in the next few days the concrete footpath on the Domain side will be ripped up and replaced with a similar 2.5 metre wide shared concrete pathway.
The present footpath is in excellent condition and residents have expressed their concern at the need for, and the cost of, such unnecessary vandalism when there are places where there is no adequate footpath at all. (For example: the goat track between the Heads and the Village.)
This is no ordinary pathway. It is a specially wide, shared use pathway and the concrete used with special tinting and additives is twice as expensive as normal concrete.
As for the cost. Heaven knows. There is a growing suspicion that the costs of the MCP are running out of control. The MCP itself states that the total cost of the MCP over ten years is $26.9 million. However, it has just been revealed that the continuous coastal walkway - which was scarcely mentioned in the MCP (and costed at $1.7 million) but has now secretly grown as many legs as a centipede – is on its own going to cost $15 million.
The total cost of the MCP to completion is indicated to be close to $50 million. One can imagine that will be greatly exceeded. We already burdened with a massive debt due to the incompetence of the KDC in the EcoCare debacle. We don't need another costly blow-out.
Who pays? At the moment there is an extra levy in the rates for all properties in Mangawhai and extending to Baldrock Road. Mayor Smith when questioned on who pays, and whether ratepayers in Mangawhai afford such a grandiose scheme, suggested that Council was trying to secure monies from other sources…………….
I have filed a LGOIMA (official information) request with the KDC to find the cost of the MCP to date. I will today file a further request for the cost of the current contract to lay the shared path along Moir Street. I will advise details when they are to hand.
New concrete footpaths were laid at the Domain end of Tara Road fairly recently. This is what they look like now:
KDC WORKSHOP ON COASTAL WALKWAY ETC 22.08.2019
A KDC workshop is being held on FRIDAY 23 AUGUST (tomorrow) from 2.00 pm to 4.00 pm at the Mangawhai Library Hall (Moir Street, Mangawhai Village) to discuss progress on the following matters:
• Moir Street Intersections Plan
• Coastal Walkway Feasibility Study report and priority projects
• Spatial Planning
• Other Project updates
Representatives from Resilio (consultants) will be there along with KDC Team members and Councillors. Also present will be the Community Panel appointed by the KDC Commissioners to represent the wishes of the Mangawhai community.
This is an ideal opportunity to find out what proposals are being mooted by our representatives for the future of our community.
Note that this is a Council workshop. Whilst the public is allowed to attend, the public has no right to contribute in any way. That will come next month when a public forum will be held.
WORKBOOT COUNCILLOR LARSEN 22.08.2019
If you want to know how you are paying for the Mangawhai Community Plan take a look at the post of 16 July 2019 on the WorkBoot Councillor's Facebook page
LOCAL ELECTIONS 2019 PROVISIONAL NOMINATIONS 22.08.2019
Provisional nominations for Councillors and Mayor for Kaipara are as follows:
Dargaville Ward (2 Councillors)
Kaiwaka - Mangawahi Ward (2 Councillors)
Otamatea Ward (2 Councillors)
West - Coast Cenral Ward (2 Councillors)
Victoria del la Varis-Woodcock
Voting documents will be sent to all eligible electors, by post, from Friday 20 September 2019. The voting period is three weeks (Friday 20 September 2019 to noon Saturday 12 October 2019). Electors may post their completed voting documents back to the electoral officer using the orange pre-paid envelope sent with their voting document. Polling places for the issuing of special voting documents and for the receiving of completed voting documents will be available from Friday 20 September 2019 to close of business on Friday 11 October 2019 at all Council offices. On Saturday 12 October 2019, the issuing of special voting documents and the receiving of completed voting documents will be available at Council’s Dargaville and Mangawhai offices only. To be counted, all completed voting documents must be in the hands of the electoral officer or an electoral official by noon Saturday 12 October 2019. Progress results will be known early afternoon, and preliminary results will be known early on Sunday morning, 13 October 2019. These will be accessible on Council’s website.
MANGAWHAI COMMUNITY PLAN: COASTAL WALKWAY - ON-LINE SURVEY 11.08.2014
In the post below I alerted you to the on-line survey re the feasibility of the Mangawhai Community Plan's coastal walkway.
That survey closes on 12 August 2019.
The KDC boasts of being transparent, open and communicative. It wants to know what you want. But by golly it does not make it easy. You won’t find any reference to the on-line survey anywhere on the KDC website. At least I can’t find it. You can find the website reference on the back page of the latest Mangawhai Focus in the KDC adverts. It is also in the earlier post on this site – scroll down.
Before you go through and tick the boxes, read the post below and decide if we really need what is being offered and are you personally prepared to pay more rates to have those extra facilities?
I have done the survey. I have ticked the first option for every project. That is I don’t want any of the projects that are spread out like a free smorgasbord in front of me. I want the whole sorry saga of the coastal walkway and the Mangawhai Community Plan buried. What I do want is for us as a community to decide on what we can afford and then work out the priorities within our budget. From what I hear, you can forget all the fancy Resilio concepts and just put in a decent walkway connection between the Village and the Heads.
MANGAWHAI COMMUNITY PLAN (ALAMAR RESERVE) - LATEST NEWS 14.07.2019
Following ratepayers objections to the KDC’s proposals for Alamar Reserve, the KDC has regrouped and come back with a total revamp of the Mangawhai Community Plan (MCP) proposals.
The proposal to construct a walkway/cycleway through the heart of the Alamar Reserve was ill-conceived. It was unclear which of the projects it was meant to be - footpath, shared cycleway and pathway, access to the coast, or part of the continuous coastal walkway. Perhaps it was mixture of all of them.
Suddenly with the new KDC proposals the continuous coastal walkway now has the starring role with the other projects not even mentioned.
In the MCP the continuous coastal walkway was not mentioned in the body of the document but simply referred to in the chart on page 27. The initial stage was to be the stretch from Head Beach to Pearl Street with a walkway over the rocks to Picnic Bay. The map on page 12 referred to it as "all tide coastal access".
The new proposals take a totally different approach. The coastal walkway has taken centre stage with immediate priority, whilst the other projects are not mentioned.
An advisory group of 5 or 6 members will be appointed by the KDC to oversee the whole project. In addition each segment of the walkway will have its own project advisory group which will be made up of the KDC appointed advisory group and representatives of the local community.
But before we get too carried away there are some important questions to ask.
Do we need a continuous coastal walkway?
The new proposals say this:
At present, the Coastal Walkway is disjointed, and in certain circumstances, non-existent. Difficult access and terrain in certain segments make it unusable by certain groups and creates challenges to accessing the coastal environment.
Surely difficult terrain is what the coast in New Zealand is all about. Can we expect to be able to walk (or cycle - it is a cycleway as well) along every metre of the coast? Do we want or need to have an uninterrupted walk/cycle around the coastline of Mangawhai?
One of the proposals is to build a wooden walkway from the KDC Campsite in Alamar Crescent over the rocks to Picnic Bay. Is that environmentally appropriate? And what of the cost?
And what are the groups that find certain segments of the coastline unusable? The reference is to those with mobility issues though age or illness. The consultant firm, Resilio, believes that all people irrespective of their age or health should be able to walk or have wheeled access to the coastline. Is that really sensible or feasible?
Can we afford the proposals?
Most ratepayers in Mangawhai are unaware that they are already paying a premium on their rates to meet the cost of the MCP. Those costs are huge. Have a look at all the number of reports that were prepared by consultants before the Plan even got off the ground. The current KDC consultant Resilio will be costing a small fortune. And the ground work has not even started yet.
There are estimates for the costs of the projects but you can expect them to be nowhere near the final costs. Those costs will be met by the ratepayers of Mangawhai. KDC and NRC rates increase for Mangawhai for the 2018/2019 rating years proably averaged over 20 per cent. In the new rating year (that has just started) the average increase across the district increase is 5.26 per cent. These are already way above the increases in consumer price index and the local government cost index, and they will continue to increase if we spend money on such projects.
Kaipara has a massive debt brought about by the incompetence of a previous council. Should we not be concentrating on getting rid of that debt and avoiding projects such as this - which we cannot afford and which are not really a priority for our community?
Rather than ticking the boxes of projects that are dangled before us as if they were freebies with no financial consequences, perhaps we should call out “Stop”, consider the cost, and look at what is essential. From what I am hearing coastal walkways, slow roads and all those fancy new ideas have no relevance to Mangawhai. Most residents simply want a footpath/cycleway between the Heads and the Village that goes alongside the road, rather than meandering for kilometres along the coastline. Footpaths would also be welcome in places where they are missing.
A couple of years ago the KDC developed “designer” options for Alamar Crescent and the Reserve. The residents rejected the proposals because they were a waste of money and would have a negative impact on the natural amenities of the location. That might be an example which we should follow in respect of the MCP.
The online survey document has plans of each segment of the proposed walkway. They are difficult to understand because of symbols in circles which are not explained on the plans themselves. To find out what the symbols mean you have to go to Path Improvement Options towards the beginning of the document which shows the different types of paths with a symbol representing each one.
The proposals for Alamar Reserve have changed substantially. The feedback from the community is that the grass reserve functions perfectly well as a walkway and there is no requirement for a formalised path. There is a need for a footpath but not through the reserve. One of the plans shows a 2 metre wide concrete footpath close to the row of pohutukawa trees. This would either impinge on the reserve or the parking area for cars.
The consultants appear to have a mind-set about defining walkways in gravel, wood or concrete. Where the walkway or footpath crosses the two boat ramps in Alamar Crescent they propose a raised 2 metre wide concrete walkway with zebra crossing type painting. It will be intersting to see what the boaties have to say.
If we commit to this project it may turn out to be a millstone around ratepayers’ necks. It did not start well with the rather dictatorial attitude of KDC staff and their “high end” aspirations. Perhaps this is the time when we should step back and consider if this is what we want, and whether, as a community, we can afford it.
HALT ON FOOTPATH A WIN FOR LOCALS 25.04.2019
See the latest from the Mangawhai Focus on the community’s fight to save the Alamar Reserve.
COUNCILLOR LARSEN 18.04.2019
Councillor Larsen’s column in the current edition of the Mangawhai Focus sets out the latest information on several matters that are of importance to ratepayers.
He reports on the three items that he has successfully argued before the council. He also summarises the outcome of the representation review appeal, and the reduction of the number of councillors in the east.
Importantly, for those who are justifiably irate about the KDC’s proposals for the Alamar Reserve, he sets out clearly how the KDC has responded. Measures have been put in place to review all the priority projects, which will then be consulted on with the community. He gives the assurance that all physical work have been put on hold until that has happened.
Councillor Larsen adds that if anyone has any community projects or issues that they would like assistance with, he can be contacted on 021 185 8389 or Cr.Larsen@kaipara.govt.nz. Or check out his ‘The WorkBoot Councillor’ Facebook page for regular updates.
ALAMAR RESERVE UPDATE 12.04.2019
There has been some concern about the mysterious blue crosses suddenly appearing throughout the Alamar Reserve. All sorts of sinister theories have been floated as to their significance. However in a post on its website the KDC has now scotched all of those rumours:
From Wednesday 10 April to Friday 12 April, a drone operator will be capturing footage around the coastal area of Mangawhai, from around the estuary to the Heads beach.
This is in order to get footage of the entire area, so that we can better align any proposed walkways, and to better understand the areas that may need further work.
The spray paint marks allow for better measurement from the aerial footage as GPS Markers.
In the same post the KDC states:
There is no physical work being undertaken until a further meeting is held in May with the community of Mangawhai.
That is a very sensible response from the Council given the strength of feeling about the issue within the community.
DEMOCRACY AND CONSULTATION TAKE ANOTHER BEATING 11.04.2019
Democracy and the concept of ratepayer consultation took a severe beating with the release of the Determination of the Local Government Commission (LGC) on the representation arrangements for the KDC in the forthcoming local body elections later this year.
The representation review defines the wards for the election, their boundaries and the number of councillors representing each ward.
In a surprising move the LGC endorsed the proposal advanced by Mayor Smith despite the majority of ratepayers’ submissions being opposed to the proposal, and despite its apparent conflict with some of the guiding principles for assessing fair and effective representation.
The proposal adopted by the LGC was promoted by Mayor Smith. In a vote to adopt the proposal the elected councillors were tied, which meant that the vote was not carried. However Mayor Smith used his casting vote (second vote) to ensure that the proposal was adopted. This was despite the fact that of 81 submissions the majority of 53 were against the proposal.
Whilst the LGC emphasised that it is required to form its own view on all matters within the scope of the review, it decided to endorse the proposal of Mayor Smith in every respect. This was despite a very strong argument that, because of the communities of interest, the Otamatea ward should not be separated from Kaiwaka/Mangawhai.
The LGC also ignored the advice of its own adviser Gavin Beattie who noted that, as the KDC had adopted the STV electoral system, it was generally agreed that larger multi-member wards (at least three-member wards) or at large systems are necessary to achieve proportional representation under this system. Mayor Smith’s proposal did not meet that requirement. The LGC neatly side-stepped that issue by suggesting that that issue should be considered in three years’ time.
Perhaps the biggest concern expressed by the appellants (Helen Curreen, Clive Boonham and Paul Smith) was that the fair representation rule was breached by the Mayor’s proposal. For the purposes of fair representation for the electors of a district, section 19V(2) of the Act requires that the population of each ward divided by the number of members to be elected by that ward must produce a figure no more than 10 per cent greater or smaller than the population of the district divided by the total number of members (the ‘+/-10% rule’).
Based on historic figures from 2017 the KDC proposal showed that Kaiwaka/Mangawhai was +9.40 % and Dargaville -9.93 %, both on the cusp of legality. With the growth of Mangawhai and Kaiwaka in the intervening years, and the decline in population of Dargaville, it seemed absolutely clear that the +/- 10% rule had already been exceeded in both cases on a factual basis.
Whilst technically the old figures had to be used, the LGC’s adviser Gavin Beattie stated that: “While projected population is not a statutory criterion, Commission officers consider it can be used as an argument to support a particular decision.”
The Commission did not consider Mr Beatties’s comments and stated bluntly that the KDC’s proposal complied with the +/- 10 % rule without further comment.
Legally another representation review need not be undertaken for another 6 years, so in fact this coming election and the next one in three years will use representation figures that are completely out of date. The LGC referred to Mayor Smith’s statement that “he would like to see the council undertake another representation review in three years”. Referring to that very nebulous statement the LGC concluded: “On that basis we have decided to endorse the council’s final proposal”.
The end result is the Kaiwaka/Mangawhai will have only 2 councillors out of a total of 8. When it comes to voting they will have two votes against seven (6 councillors and the mayor).
The sad thing is that this whole affair has illustrated that the consultation with ratepayers by the KDC is simply a charade. No matter what the ratepayers say, it appears that the outcome is a done-deal. Likewise with the appeal process. Those who took part in it will probably agree that it felt like a formality, with the outcome predetermined. Taking part was like swimming against the tide in the Mangawhai Estuary.
If consultation is meaningless then the only power that ratepayers wield is at the ballot box. Unfortunately ratepayers in the east have been seriously disenfranchised by the KDC’s proposal and will find it difficult to vote in representatives that have any say in the future of Kaipara.
As a matter of interest, the elected members voted as follows:
For the KDC’s proposed representation review:
Councillors Curnow, del la Varis-Woodcock, Joyce-Paki and Mayor Smith
Against the proposal:
Councillors Geange, Jones, Larsen and Wethey
Councillor Wade was absent and did not make an arrangement for a telephone vote.
With the vote tied 4-4 Mayor Smith used his second casting vote to carry the resolution.
HOW DID THE ALAMAR RESERVE DEBACLE HAPPEN? 05.04.2019
According to Councillor Larsen’s post, the chief executive of the KDC, Louise Miller, reported as follows:
Mangawhai Coastal walkway design and construction project tender has closed and staff are now working with Resilio as the preferred tenderer. Stage 1 (Pearl Street to Sellars carpark) of the coastal walkways physical works has been awarded to Broadspectrum with work due to start early April 2019.
This reflects what KDC staff have been telling ratepayers, that the project is a done deal and the contract has been let. Clearly that is correct.
However, KDC staff have also been telling ratepayers that they were consulted on the Mangawhai Community Plan (MCP), that they supported the proposals, and that the KDC is simply implementing the wishes of ratepayers.
That’s where the KDC heads into la-la land.
The MCP states on page 2:
The Mangawhai Community Plan (MCP) is a document to provide guidance to Kaipara District Council in the management of growth in Mangawhai.
The Plan lists proposals that are very general in nature. The intention was that these proposals would be subsequently fleshed out in consultation with ratepayers. This is what the Plan says (page 2):
Every three years as part of the Long Term Plan process, the costs, priorities and projects will be reviewed.
The proposals in the Plan are incredibly vague. There is an all tide coastal access, footpaths, shared footpath/cycle ways and a continuous coastal walkway. The KDC has confused and conflated these various projects and come up with a hybrid for Alamar Reserve. It is called a coastal walkway, but is in fact a shared pathway/cycleway.
The issue is that none of these proposals in the Plan has ever been finalised and consulted with ratepayers. There is no map of the proposed coastal walkway and where it is to be situated. There is no mention of how the walkway is to be formed. The presumption was that where a walkway crossed a reserve it would simply be signposted, as it is at present. There was no indication that it would be formed according to the specifications for a cycleway (see paragraph 4.2 of the Opus report on Mangawhai Cycleway Connection, which is one of the Technical Reports used in drafting the MCP).
The Plan states that any pathway/cycleway would follow the road carriageway (page 8), No mention of it going through the heart of a reserve. In fact no plans or details of the proposal have ever been finalised. Page 26 of the Plan refers to the walking and cycling strategy and states:
Prepare and develop a strategy to determine future walking and cycling connections, formalising the routes in this plan
The formulation of that strategy is an immediate priority (P1) but does not appear to have been undertaken. Or, it has been done in secret.
The priority afforded to the Alamar Reserve hybrid conflicts with the priorities in the Plan. Priority 1 for the coastal walkway is Head Beach to Pearl Street. Alamar Reserve is part of the future stage scheduled for 2021- 2028 onwards. There is no strategy and therefore no priority for the walkway/pathway.
Presumably the KDC staff finalised the proposals in secret and decided not to consult with ratepayers on the final strategy. They also prepared responses to rebut ratepayers’ objections – “You asked for it, we are just implementing it”, “it’s a done deal, the contract has been let.”
The cost wastage is enormous. There will be a very expensive contract with Resilio and a large part all that work will be wasted, not because of Resilio, but because the KDC staff jumped the gun and gave Resilio instructions based on proposals that has not been consulted with ratepayers.
We are now back to square one. Someone needs to put a boot up the KDC staff and ensure that the proposals and strategies are consulted with ratepayers through every stage. There is a lot of good common sense out there in the community and this is an occasion when the KDC, including CEO, staff and elected members, should all be listening.
ALAMAR RESERVE 03.04.2019
No definite news yet from the KDC. However, it appears that the protests have had an effect and the project is being revisited.
Information will be provided as it comes to hand.
ALAMAR RESERVE – LATEST 27.03.2019
The meeting with Council staff
An excellent turn out, some strongly expressed opinions, with the result that the KDC is now going to reconsider its options.
Well done everyone.
Contacting the community
The KDC obtained email addresses of all of those interested in the issues. However we do not have those details ourselves. If you would like to be kept in the loop as to what is happening then simply send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org I will use the information to send updates to you and it can be used by anyone wanting to share information or ideas.
Mangawhai Community Plan (MCP)
The MCP can be viewed here.
Council staff repeat the mantra that the MCP was approved by ratepayers, adopted as part of the current long term plan, and that the KDC is simply implementing it.
That is not correct for the following reasons.
Trying to understand the MCP
The Connections map on page 12 of the MCP sets out the various projects which affect Alamar Crescent. Unfortunately the scale is so small you will need to use the enlarger at the top of the page, and even then it is not clear.
Alamar Crescent is not identified but it is the blue road heading north at the eastern end of North Avenue. Alamar Reserve is not shown at all.
The following projects appear to be relevant to Alamar Crescent.
Te Araroa Trail
This is shown in ochre running along Alamar Crescent on the map on page 12. There is no explanation of the Trail in the MCP.
All tide coastal access.
This is the purple strip around the coastline on the map on page 12. It merely gives access to the coast. It is not a walkway. The Alamar Reserve gives access to the coast so there is nothing further to do in that location. (I suspect that KDC staff has confused this project with the coastal walkway.)
Mangawhai Heads Loop
The Mangawhai Heads Loop is shown on the Slow Street Map on page 7 of the MCP.
It is referred to again on page 21 as: “cycle/walking on road shared paths” and described as:
Mangawhai Heads loop shared path (Wood Street / Robert Street / North Avenue / Alamar Crescent / camping grounds / Mangawhai Heads Road including Wood Street upgrade.
On page 8 it states that “a shared use path for cycling and walking would follow the road carriageway for its full length. It would therefore follow Alamar Crescent rather than cutting though Alamar Reserve. It is P2 priority which means 2021-2024 and is costed at $775,000 (page 21).
This loop also appears to be the blue strip along Alamar Crescent on the map on page 12 with the legend: “walking and/or cycling connections-proposed”.
It is unclear where this shared path will be located.
On page 21 is a list of the proposed works, their priority and cost. This list includes:
Footpaths: Footpath along Alamar Crescent. P1 = 2018-2020. Cost: $47,000
This is an immediate priority. A footpath is a concrete walkway about 1.5 metres wide alongside the roadway.
This is described in the list of projects on page 27 as follows:
Continuous Coastal walkway: Initial stage - Head Beach to Pearl Street. Priority P1: 2018-2020. Cost: $300,000
Future Stages to Mangawhai Village Priority P2-P4: 2021 – 2029 and onwards. Cost: $1,442,366 (right down to the last dollar and yet it will not be completed in the next 10 years!)
Surprisingly there is no mention of this coastal walkway in the body of the Plan. No map. No indication where it will go, and how it is to be formed. It is clearly a coastal walkway only, not a cycle path.
It appears that the walkway across the Alamar Reserve is intended to be part of this walkway simply because the recent letter from the KDC is headed Development of Mangawhai Coastal Walkway.
At the recent meeting the KDC staff were adamant that the coastal walkway should be useable by all people including those with disabilities and must therefore have a formed, hard surface. The reality is that KDC does not have the money or the space available to provide such a facility. By its very nature a coastal walkway will consist of all sorts of different terrain, gradients and steps that would test able-bodied people. The KDC should concentrate on providing a concrete footpath for those who need a hard and level surface.
Note that this project is of immediate priority (P1) but that only applies to the section from Head Beach to Pearl Street. Alamar Crescent is not mentioned but would comes within future stages with a P2 to P4 priority (2021 – 2028 and onwards). Why then has it been brought forward?
It is clear that there is a need for properly formed footpaths. The "mule track" from the Heads to the Village is a fine example. We need one in Alamar Crescent as well so those with wheels or those who need a firm footing are catered for. But we must not confuse that issue with the coasal walkway. That is a separate matter altogether and cannot, because of the terrain, be accessible by everyone. I suggest that we concentrate on sorting out the location for the footpath, which by its very nature must be alongside the roadway. Once that need has been met we can revisit the concept of the coastal walkway where it crosses reserves (signposts as at present?). Cycleways are the "in thing", but is there enough space for one along Alamar Crescent?
I am happy to publish any views on the issue.
For earlier posts go here.