Kapiti Council plans to slash iconic hedge to ‘put people’s safety’ first
By Alan Tristram
The Kāpiti Coast District Council says councillors are unanimous in deciding ‘to trim back a macrocarpa hedge that is restricting visibility for vehicles and public access to a nearby bus stop on Te Moana Road, in Waikanae.’
Mayor K Gurunathan says:” the Councillors present at the Council briefing late last week all agreed that people’s safety must be put ahead of preserving the aesthetics of the hedge at 84 Te Moana Road.”
“We recognise that this hedge is a feature but we can no longer continue to put people at risk. Once a complaint is received the Council has an obligation to the act on the safety concerns raised and that is what we’ve done,” says the Mayor.
The 80-year-old hedge, says Vincent Osborne (right), has been in his family for four generations and is not a hazard.
He says pruning back the hedge could kill it, because cutting past the growing tips on this particular species will mean the branches are unable to regrow.
Mr Osborne believes the hedge, which is on a route leading to Waikanae Beach, is a local icon.
But the Council says staff have been ‘proactively working with the owner’s of the hedge since January to find a workable solution that will address public safety concerns and see the hedge retained. This has consumed a significant amount of staff time and the Council has incurred additional costs associated with external engineering reports.’
‘Hedge on Council land’
“The hedge is on Council land and encroaches on the road corridor. The Council’s earlier compromise to cut back a corridor along the base of the hedge and to erect a fence to address the safety concerns raised was rejected by the owners in March this year,” says the Council.
Group Manager for Infrastructure Services Sean Mallon says the Council has done its best to accommodate the owner’s requests, this includes giving them several extensions of time — and looking at alternative options which a representative acting on their behalf said a group in the community would be prepared to meet the cost of up to $82,000 through their own private donations and some fundraising.
Crunch point reached
“We have followed through on all of our commitments and this matter has now reached a point where we can no longer continue to put road users at risk and work needs to happen now,” says Mr Mallon.
“We have been very clear in stating that all costs associated with the alternative option proposed would need to be met by the owners – not ratepayers on the Kāpiti Coast – and that if they did not agree to fund the works, as well as trimming the hedge on an annual basis to get it back behind the original kerb line, by 31 May 2017, the Council would take steps to trim the hedge back behind the current kerb at the next available opportunity,” Mr Mallon says.