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Thursday, 9 April 2015

Long Term Plan season in the Hutt

UH Mayor Wayne Guppy at the public consultation.
It's long term plan season - when our local councils put together their plans for the next ten years. Both Upper Hutt City Council and Hutt City Council have their ten-year plans under way and open for consultation now.

In Upper Hutt, there's a number of projects:

  • Reconstruction of Fergusson/Main/Gibbons St intersection (increased demand) $6.5 million 
  • Rural roads upgrades (improve services) $6.1 million 
  • Stormwater - Pinehaven Stream project (UHCC 50% cost share) $5.8 million
  • Fergusson/Ward/Whakatiki intersection upgrade (increased demand) $4.5 million 
  • Water supply - new Cruickshank reservoir (increased demand) $4.1 million 
  • Akatarawa Cemetery development (increased demand) $3.7 million

Overall it's a pretty balanced - the water and roading projects are pretty standard. The key thing for me though is that the council's debt remains below the Local Government Cost Index (LGCI) while a spending a bit more on extra projects to help Upper Hutt grow. They are:

  • Boosting economic development $500,000 
  • Cruickshank Rail Tunnel walkway/cycleway $452,000 
  • LED street light upgrade $431,000 
  • Upper Hutt City walkway/cycleway network $281,000 
  • Hutt River Trail upgrades (Rimutaka Cycle Trail) $253,000 
  • Harcourt Park paddling pool upgrade $245,000

It's pleasing to see local businesses are behind these plans. The investment in cycleways is good, especially the Cruikshank Rail Tunnel. Developing the tourist and recreation potential of Upper Hutt in this way is definitely a good think.

I'd question the rate of return from the half a million in economic development. If the rate of return is better than the cost incurred by the council of borrowing the money, then potentially more could be spent; on the other hand if its worse then this item of expenditure could be trimmed. We have seem a lot of positives in this area - but are we getting value for money?

The LED street light upgrade is another good idea. LED lighting looks better, and more importantly it uses much less electricity, so over time there's a net benefit to ratepayers.

Consultation on Upper Hutt's LTP closes on 20 April.

Meanwhile in Lower Hutt, Hutt City has its LTP up for consultation. Along with the key projects, they have a number of additional projects:
  • Eastern Bays Shared Path between Lowry Bay and Days Bay $9 million
  • City-wide cycle network upgrades. $3 million
  • Regional Bowls Centre in Naenae, funded through asset sales. $2 million
  • City-wide science and technology projects. $500,000
  • Viewing platform at the top of Wainuiomata Hill. $200,000
  • Petone and Wainuiomata Sportsville projects. $200,000
The regional bowls centre in Naenae is controversial, especially since it's funded by asset sales. Again, the rate of return on science and technology projects is debatable, but pleasing to see it forms a part of Hutt City's future plans.

There are also a number of projects from last year's plan that are underway:
  • Civic Centre development- scheduled to be completed by mid / late 2016
  • The construction of the Taita Community Centre – scheduled to be completed mid / late 2015
  • Fraser Park developments (in three phases), phase two – new multi-purpose clubrooms scheduled to be completed by late 2015 / early 2016.
  • Construction of new Learn to Swim and hydrotherapy facilities at Huia Pool – scheduled to be completed mid / late 2016
  • Significant Avalon Park developments - scheduled to be completed mid / late 2017.
  • Work on the Hutt River Trail to complete walkways and cycleways – completed mid / late 2015
  • Riddiford Gardens development - scheduled to be completed mid / late 2017.
Consultation on Hutt City's plan is open through to 30 April.