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  • Getting your take on travel

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    by Charlotte,
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    Late last year we got people into the summer barbecue mood with a sausage sizzle at one of Lower Hutt’s regular Saturday markets.

    This was an opportunity for us to get a clear understanding from locals regarding places you visit, how you travel, the routes you use and why you use them. The aim was to find out what people’s recent travel experiences have been, what the problems are for travel in and around the Hutt CBD and what some of the potential opportunities might be to improve access to the City, riverbank area and local suburbs.

    These conversations, along with in-depth face-to-face interviews with local residents and business owners, have given us valuable insights into different customers’ points of view and provided us
    with an important piece of the puzzle to understand what the issues are and how we might address them.

    Some key themes that came out of our conversations included that:

    1. Lower Hutt is a great place to live and bring up families with excellent schools, services, retailers and recreational activities.

    2. People avoid using the Melling area and come up with a variety of workarounds to get where they need to go.

    3. Some of the reasons people avoid using the Melling intersection include safety concerns, congestion issues and traffic delays.

    4. Talking about Melling train station was polarising – some favoured it for being easily accessible and a pleasant open space while others were concerned about the limited frequency of the train service and limited parking.

    5. The Melling intersections with State Highway 2 create a complex set of interactions between people travelling along State Highway 2 past Melling, and others who use Melling to get into and out Lower Hutt.

    These insights have helped shape our thinking so thank you for taking the time to talk with our team.
  • Making progress on Melling Intersection Improvements

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    by Charlotte,
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    Since last year, we have made good progress on investigating how to improve the Melling intersections with State Highway 2.

    Officers from the NZ Transport Agency, Hutt City Council and Greater Wellington Regional Council have been working closely together to understand and agree on what we collectively want to achieve through the Melling Intersection Improvements project. We have also established some basic guidelines on how the intersection improvements could fit together with the other elements of the RiverLInk project – Greater Wellington Regional Council’s Flood Capacity Improvements and Hutt City Council’s Making Places project.

    As a result, four investment objectives have been developed.
    These are:
    • Reliability – people and goods being able to reliably move on State Highway 2 and into Hutt City CBD
    • Accessibility – improve the connection across the highway and provide better access to Melling Station and Hutt City CBD
    • Safety – make it safer for people travelling on State Highway 2 and into Hutt CBD
    • Availability – reduce the number of road/lane closures that occur as a result of crashes or flooding.

    The objectives help evaluate the options developed so far to either weed out ones that will not work, or make adjustments to others that are worth further consideration.

    In the next few months, we should be in a position to share with you where we’ve got to, and seeking your feedback what you think would be good to prioritise at Melling.

    Remember that you can sign up for updates on the NZ Transport Agency’s website and find more information about this community engagement work here>

  • Pop up progress on Te Awa Kairangi / Hutt River project

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    by Charlotte,
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    Come and check out the progress on plans to connect the Lower Hutt CBD with the Te Awa Kairangi / Hutt River at the RiverLink Pop-up Hub at the Riverside Carpark in March and April.

    “We have opened up space between the trees next to the river and tidied the river bank which will give people better access to the water”, says Prue Lamason GWRC Lower Hutt Ward Councillor.
    Together with Hutt City Council we have set up a container and had it painted by a local Lower Hutt artist to portray the giant kokopu fish, another Te Awa Kairangi/Hutt River local.

    There are a series of posters inside the container showcasing RiverLink designs to provide better flood protection, transport and lifestyle for Lower Hutt, and we will change these as the designs progress.
    We’ve talked to thousands of people over the past few years to get ideas to develop plans for stopbanks, promenades, a cycleway, riverside features and connecting paths to the CBD.

    We’re about two thirds through the design and we’d love people to keep coming back to the pop-up hub and check out the progress.

    The pop-up hub will play host to a series of community events by the river, from live music to coffee and food, in early March and early April.

  • Making Places in the city

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    by Charlotte,
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    A vibrant city centre is an important part of achieving growth and rejuvenation. The Lower Hutt community’s vision for what they want in their city centre and how this will be achieved was set out in 2009 in a project sponsored by Hutt City Council called Making Places.

    A clear message from public consultation on Making Places was that one of Lower Hutt’s greatest assets is the Te Awakairangi/ Hutt River and the city centre should be better connected with it.
    We have a fantastic opportunity to make this better connection between city and river through the RiverLink project with a promenade along the new flood protection stopbanks on the city side of the river. A recent survey had 91 percent of the 600 respondents in support of the promenade and there will be more consultation this year.

    Hutt City Council’s investment in the Making Places project is already apparent in the city. The Civic Precinct has gone through a transformation. The Dowse Square is a popular public space. The city’s administration building has been refurbished and the iconic clock tower is being strengthened. A new events centre will soon adjoin these historic buildings, providing key community and commercial events in a quality, purpose built venue in the heart of our city.

    The events centre operator is constructing a four-star hotel, a first for the city and a great example of how public investment attracts private development. The hotel site is on High Street beside the river, a short walk through the newly refurbished Riddiford Garden from the events centre. This hotel is expected to spark other commercial activity in the vicinity.

    Retail and commercial activity alone cannot bring significant change in the city centre. The proposed promenade will encourage mixed use apartment based development.

    The RiverLink project offers an incredible opportunity to achieve a major part of the Making Places project, further realising the community’s vision for our city centre.

  • International students to test public awareness of RiverLink Project

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    by Charlotte,
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    What do you know about the RiverLink project? Four visiting students from the United States will be hitting the streets of Lower Hutt in the next few weeks to find out.

    The students are about to begin a seven-week research project into the Lower Hutt community’s views and understanding of the “RiverLink” flood protection, city revitalisation and transport project. If you want to contribute you can complete the online survey here.

    “RiverLink” (previously known as the Hutt River City Centre Upgrade Project) is a joint project between Greater Wellington Regional Council, Hutt City Council and the NZ Transport Agency designed to provide better flood protection, improved lifestyle and better transport links throughout Lower Hutt’s CBD.

    The students will be assessing people’s awareness and understanding of the project and will explore opinions on how effective the engagement and communication with the community has been.

    “We’ve done a lot of work to let people know about the project and get their ideas. The students’ research will tell us how successful we’ve been and what we might be missing,” says Prue Lamason GWRC Lower Hutt Ward Councillor.

    GWRC project adviser Ross Jackson says it’s important to understand how much people know.

    “We’ve engaged the public in the original decision on Option A and more recently about the preliminary design development.

    We need to know whether they feel they have been listened to and where we could do better to increase public awareness and understanding.

    “This year we will continue to engage and listen to the community as we move to complete preliminary designs for the project which will go before the Hutt Valley Floodplain Management Subcommittee at the end of the year. We want to ensure members of the public have lots of opportunity to make their views known and the students’ research will guide us in achieving that.”

    The students are from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), a science and engineering University near Boston, Massachusetts. The university has been sending students to Wellington for several years to allow them to undertake high quality research projects at the intersection of technology, society and the environment.

    This year’s project brief to the students is: “to explore the views of the Hutt Valley community on the level of understanding of RiverLink, evaluate the community engagement process to date and identify ways it can be improved”.

    This involves:

    · Gauging the level of understanding of the community to flood risk in Central Lower Hutt

    · Exploring the views of the public on how well they understood the proposals and information put forward

    · Gauging the feeling within the community about how well the design team has/is capturing their ideas and feedback

    · Recommending engagement and community design tools for future use.

    It is anticipated this project will complement and build on a study carried out in 2015 which investigated the views and perception of the Hutt Valley community on flooding and climate change.

    For enquiries, contact Ross Jackson at GWRC, 04 830 4387 or

  • Come and see the Pop-up Hub!

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    by Charlotte,
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    Come and see the plans for the river that flows through your city at the RiverLink pop-up beach in the Riverside Carpark from February 4 to 12. Last year you told us what we might include around the river to make a better lifestyle, better flood protection and improved transport movement. It is a great opportunity to improve the people’s access between the Lower Hutt CBD, the river and State Highway 2.

    We listened and got to work and are about two thirds of the way through the plans. So come and check them out inside our kitted out container. There will be heaps of attractions coming and going including a coffee cart, food truck, jazz band and fitness programme and heaps more.

    We’ll keep you posted on the timings and hope to see you there!
    For full information check out our Facebook event here

  • Workshop on improvements for Melling Intersection

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    by Charlotte,
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    In November 2016, we held a stakeholder workshop to develop a long list of conceptual high level options to improve State Highway 2 connections at the Melling and Block Road intersections. These discussions involved the NZ Transport Agency, and the Hutt City Council and Greater Wellington Regional Council, as well as technical experts, to make sure any potential transport improvement options are integrated with the Making Places and Flood Protection. Projects which are all part of the joint RiverLink programme.

    The next steps will be to evaluate and shortlist the options identified at the workshop and then present them to the wider community for input and feedback. We expect to be able to talk more about the options and our plans for engagement in early 2017.

    You can sign up for updates on the NZ Transport Agency’s website:

  • 30% Design Phase Complete!

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    by Charlotte,
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    Harnessing and co-ordinating all the complex elements of a project of RiverLink’s scope is no mean feat. So reaching its first development milestone – the completion of 30 per cent of the initial design phase - was a real achievement.

    “With dozens of consultants and council staff involved in the design phase, working over a multitude of different workstreams, many of which are dependent on each other to make progress, we rely on the
    application of experience and expertise, strong project management and good communication between the teams to make progress,” says GWRC Manager, Flood Protection, Graeme Campbell. “And that’s what we’ve achieved in this first phase of the design project, which has begun to reveal how all the parts will fit together to create the blueprint we will submit to the community.”

    Key decisions such as the alignment of the river channel are being determined to enable detailed consideration of the exact location of the stopbanks, and the form they will take. It has also enabled us
    to look closely at how and where we accommodate service such a stormwater outfalls and utility pipelines etc.

    While the exact scale of the river channel (stopbank to stopbank) is yet to be determined, the urban landscaping team has begun to apply the finding from the Community Design Workshop into its brief
    to design the corridor’s environment and amenities that will drive lifestyle.

    Planning is also progressing on regional and local transport, with the NZ Transport Agency investigating transport issues along SH2 and at the Melling intersection, and Hutt City Council planning for the
    implications both of better connections into the CBD and traffic flows within and through it. Concepts for a cycleway/pedestrian bridge were also presented.

    “We’re making great progress. I can’t wait for the next milestone, which will be at 60 per cent completion then 90 per cent early next year, when we will get a detailed view of how RiverLink will
    come together to provides its promised benefits for the Lower Huttcommunity”, says Graeme Campell.

  • Better connections and better lifestyle for Hutt City

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    by Charlotte,
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    As flood protection designs continue to develop, it’s time to focus further on the opportunity to develop the connection between the city and the river.

    The vision for better connections is set out in Hutt City Council’s Making Places project, which sets out how the Lower Hutt community would like the central business district to develop by 2030. One part of this vision is a riverside promenade, and we’ve heard very clearly from our community that while our river is one of our greatest assets we are not making the most of it.

    The RiverLink project offers the opportunity to progress this work. A riverside promenade is proposed on the eastern side of the river that would sit on the top of the stop banks currently being designed, and have terraced access to the river. Some of the suggestions for the design are buildings that are level with the promenade to provide an entertainment area, and mixed use development such as apartments.
    A pedestrian footbridge over the river to connect with Melling Train Station, and access points to the river for recreational activities are also suggested. The potential impact of the project on the local road network is also being considered. Private investment alongside public investment is really important for this promenade to be developed to its full potential.

    This RiverLink project is also considering how people use the river corridor: the space alongside the river inside the flood protection stopbanks, and ways this could be enhanced in this stretch of the river.
    There’s a lot of discussion to be had,
    and decisions to make together.
  • Questions posed during ecology design walkover

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    by Charlotte,
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    While RiverLink is designed to protect the lives and livelihoods of people in Lower Hutt, the river’s world of fish, bugs and plants matters too.

    The project has to resolve these potentially competing interests, and that’s why the design team and ecology experts recently spent a morning inspecting the RiverLink project. The question they posed was: how can flood protection and the environment work hand in hand to enhance the ecology of the river and floodplain?

    It’s a great question, because the scale of the construction work being talked about could have significant impact on the river and if it isn’t managed right could damage the rivers environment. While there is legislation to protect against or minimise this damage, we want to do better than just rely on this process. For that reason we are making ecological values of the river an important part of our design discussions, sitting alongside recreation, culture, and heritage, transport, and flood security.