Tower Lakes

Lake Vanishes from Eco Register

By K Gurunathan
7th November 2009

Tower Lakes 1A picturesque lake listed under the Kapiti Coast Council’s heritage register as an ecological site has mysteriously lost its eco-status.

Tower Lakes at the intersection of Kapiti Road and Langdale Ave was critical for a proposed new entrance to Paraparaumu Airport.

The 5730 sq metre privately owned lake was put up for auction in September, but there were no takers.

Local resident Brian Phillips wants the KCDC to buy it.

In July 2005, he led lakeside residents to successfully oppose a council staff recommendation to remove the lakes eco-status from the heritage register.

They feared its removal would allow the buyer to drain the million-litre lake and infill for development.

In July 20, 2005, the KCDCs Environment and Regulatory Committee voted to reject the staff recommendation.

Following advertisements by Harcourts Real Estates to auction the property this September, Harcourts was asked if the property had a heritage status.

They said the KCDC had informed them did not have an ecological site classification

The KCDC, in its reply, said it was not listed or protected as an ecological site.

Spokesman Tony Cronin said the lake was surveyed in 2002 -2003 by an ecologist from Wildlands Consultants. It was defined as having low ecological value and a recommendation was made to remove its designation.

“The removal would have occurred when the 2002-2003 survey results and recommendations were included in the District Plan in 2004,” said Mr Cronin.

Mr Phillips says he is surprised by the council’s current position as its timeline did not reflect the fact that the staff recommendation to remove the eco-status was rejected by councillors.

He said in August 22 2006, he found that the eco-site registered as E92 had been removed from the register.

“At my request KCDC biodiversity officer Braden Rowson agreed to ensure the record was updated,” he says.

“I wrote to KCDC chief executive Mark Dacombe. I have a reply dated August 25, 2006, confirming the eco-site designation.”

“Any new move to remove it must be publicly notified and we have not seen any such notification,” he says…

In July, 2007, KCDC planners working to accommodate the proposed Paraparaumu Airport development said the primary intersection would be a cross-intersection with traffic lights at Langdale Ave.

The present T-intersection directly faced the old control tower which was a heritage site.

Airport owner Noel Robinson had said that Langdale Ave would have to swing to the left to join up with the airport’s connecting road. Shifting Langdale Ave to the left would require at least the partial filling-up of Tower Lakes.

There was a further encumbrance. When the subdivision was created in the mid 1980’s by Jack and Campbell Andrews a legal covenant was entered into with the owner Ian Holmes.

This required the owner to maintain the level of water in the lake, to maintain the pump and cover power costs – and to promote its picturesque nature, flora and fauna.

The lake has a deep bore water pumping system with the lake’s overflow connecting, through culverts, to another lake before flowing into lakes at Summerset Retirement Village. No study has been done on the impact of the connecting waterways if this lake was filled up.

Asked to clarify council’s continued and possibly deliberate oversight, Mr Cronin, in a statement dated October 5, 2009, says Plan Change 55A was notified in 2004 with the Tower Lakes and a staff recommendation to remove it from the register.

He said there were submissions for it to remain on the register.

“The commissioners appear to have decided to let it remain as E92 on the register,” he says.

“It, therefore, should show on the maps.  However being an ecological site will not stop it being filled as the rules for ecological sites protect only the vegetation in them from removal.

“As Wildlands have identified there is little native vegetation on the site, so this does not apply,” Mr Cronin says.

Despite Mr Cronin’s choice of the word “appear,” council documents clearly show that the commissioners did made a decision to keep the lake’s eco-classification in the heritage list.

More recently, in TheTower Lakes 3 Kapiti Observer of October 29, Mr Cronin was quoted as saying the site was designated an eco-site but council did not recommend that was continued as it contained no native vegetation or wildlife.

This view directly challenges the decision of the council commissioners who made the decision to keep its eco-status. Council has also not undertaken a new study on whether, after five years, the lake contained native vegetation or wildlife. The lake is known to contain eels.

A significant concern for the current owner, future owners and council is the legal covenant attached to the land. The original Memorandum of Transfer clearly stipulates maintaining the lake and promotion of its flora and fauna.

It further states that any dispute over the conditions has to be dealt with under the Arbitration Act 1908.