Marlborough Roads manager Steve Murrin says the company will build the roundabout, then seek costs through development contributions. Photo: Chloe Ranford/LDR.

Ever increasing circles as new roundabout gets approval

Blenheim is to get another roundabout to help pacify council ahead of a possible 367-house development.

Thirty hectares of mostly vineyard land on the west side of Battys Rd has been rezoned residential.

But Marlborough Roads manager Steve Murrin says a roundabout must be installed at the intersection before any subdivision can take place.

Marlborough Roads are set to pay for the addition, with costs being recouped from developers.

Environment plan panel member and councillor David Oddie says commissioners proposed developers would cover the costs of installing the Battys Rd and New Renwick Rd intersection roundabout.

“I’m not quite sure how that works, but that was what the proposal said.”

But Steve says he understood Marlborough Roads would build the roundabout, and then seek costs from development contributions.

The roundabout would cater for increased traffic movements from any new housing development, and “some existing pressures”.

Design work on the roundabout has already begun, which could see land purchased to allow it to go ahead.

New subdivisions could be developed by Burleigh Estate Ltd, which owned 14.8ha of the rezoned 30ha, or by their neighbours, the Marris Family Trust, which owned the remaining 16.8ha.

The Marris Family Trust are yet to decide to go ahead with any development.

Speaking on behalf of the Trust, Donna Marris says the trust was aware there would need to be “traffic considerations, including potentially a roundabout solution”, before developments took place.

Burleigh Estate Ltd spokesman Norman Clifford says a roundabout has been needed for “some time”.

“It’s the main road used to get from the south to north of town. It was a very wise decision from the plan’s panel,” he says.

The deadline for appeals on the Proposed Marlborough Environment Plan had been pushed out to April 16, after delays in getting the full and finalised version of the plan out last week.

Marlborough Civil Defence emergency management officer Gary Spence. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Mayor tipped over the edge

Marlborough’s Emergency Response Team tipped the region’s mayor over the edge last week – but all for a good cause.

Strapped into a stretcher, mayor Leggett was lowered from a height of 4.1metres as he was rescued from the fire station training tower in Blenheim.

Playing the part of a casualty, mayor Leggett joked he had checked his will.

“I did think about checking whether it was up to date,” he says

Members of Marlborough Emergency Response Team train regularly to prepare for possible disaster.

Mayor John Leggett was in safe hands as he was lowered to the ground. Photo: Paula Hulburt.
Mayor John Leggett was in safe hands as he was lowered to the ground. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Part of their training includes ground-based rescue, structural search, flood response and casualty recovery.

Marlborough Civil Defence emergency management officer Gary Spence was on hand to talk the audience through the stages of a rescue.

Fire, ambulance and police personnel watched on in interest.

“It’s about keeping the team safe and getting the casualty out of there, he says.

Mayor Leggett agreed to play the part of a casualty with possible neck or spinal injuries.

Crews carefully transferred him into the stretcher by sliding it underneath while he was moved in a blanket.

“I felt very safe, very secure,” he says.

The Marlborough team make up part of 750 emergency personnel throughout the country.

Gary says the 24-strong team are unique in that they don’t just undertake rescues but help support Fire and Emergency New Zealand setting up mobile civil defence centres.

“Other responsibilities include performing evacuations; they are qualified to do cordons and roadblocks so it’s a team that can really fit lots of different areas and different roles.

“The reason that we’re interested in showcasing what we’re doing tonight is that rescue is one of half a dozen things that we do, so that some of the other emergency services can see that this perhaps can be a resource they can look into.”

Resident Richard Peterson was one of many who opposed the plan. Photo: Chloe Ranford/LDR.

Gravel plans withdrawn

Plans to extract gravel from a Wairau Valley riverbed have been withdrawn.

Marlborough Ready Mix Limited lodged a resource consent earlier this year with Marlborough District Council, asking to use a village lane to access a river site for four to six weeks each year.

Thirty-one residents opposed the resource consent, concerned the works could be a safety risk, prevent river access, generate noise and dust, and damage the environment.

The company had hoped to use Church Lane to extract up to 20,000 cubic metres of aggregate a year from “gravel island beaches” along the Wairau River.

A council spokesman confirmed the application had been withdrawn by the company.

‘Master’ plan takes titanic effort

Council staff put in a 19-hour shift, finishing at 3am on Thursday, to get the region’s management “masterplan” finalised in time for its big release later that day.

After years in the making, the Marlborough Environment Plan was released at noon today following a pōwhiri at Blenheim’s Omaka Marae.

The plan brings three of the region’s major management plans into a single document.

Council environment policy manager Pere Hawes says council staff worked late to format the final document.

“It’s part of the job. I’ve been working so hard that I haven’t had time to pause and reflect on its release. But there’s a sense of accomplishment.”

He says the plan’s release was a “New Zealand first” as no other council had successfully combined their plans.

The new plan fused together the Marlborough Regional Policy Statement, the Marlborough Sounds Resource Management Plan and the Wairau-Awatere Resource Management Plan.

It is expected the new plan will save ratepayers money, as the council would only have to review one plan, instead of three, every few years.

Marlborough Mayor John Leggett says Marlborough was the “first one to survive” the fusion.

More than 1300 submissions were made on the plan/

Councillor David Oddie, who sat on the plan’s panel, says the council had originally estimated hearings and deliberations would take two months.

But in the end it took more than two years, he says.

“It’s sucked up my thinking over the years. It’s made being a councillor hard to do. I always had a pile of reading to do.”

Independent commissioner Ron Crosby says he now “had [his] life back”.

“It’s been absolutely all-absorbing in terms of personal time.”

Ron says he would celebrate by taking a one-week vacation with friends.

Former councillor and panel chairman Trevor Hook says staff had spent about 10 years developing what was a “blueprint for the region”.

“Today represents something really special,” he says.

Independent commissioner Rawiri Faulker said he thought iwi and the wider community would be encouraged by the plan’s contents.

“It’s a great starting point for what sustainability will look like in the future.”

Rivers rapidly heading to cut off point

The hot, dry weather is putting the region’s water supply under threat.

Residents are being urged to save water as warm weather looks set to continue.

With little rain forecast in the next week, Marlborough District Council staff are recommending residents reduce their water use.

The move comes as several rivers edge closer to cut off levels,

Council’s operations and maintenance engineer Stephen Rooney says rural irrigators could be especially affected.

“Everyone, including Blenheim residents, should avoid watering their gardens or crops during the heat of the day.”

People in Renwick, Picton and Havelock responded well to calls earlier in the month to voluntarily reduce their water usage.

“People in Renwick, Picton and Havelock are doing a great job of voluntarily reducing their water use.

“If this continues, we may be able to avoid water restrictions this summer,” Stephen says.

In Renwick, aquifer levels at the water supply bore continue to drop.

Council has reduced the output from the pumps, reducing the flow into the reservoirs from 55 to 45 litres per second – an almost 20 per cent cutback.

“Renwick conservation-minded residents have done a great job in reducing their water use voluntarily and we ask them to continue with this approach.

“In Picton and Havelock demand is currently matching capacity. Council is using water from the Essons Valley Dam in Picton, and keeping a close eye on water levels.

“Residents in Picton and Havelock are also encouraged to conserve water – every little bit helps,” Stephen says.

Council has advised river water irrigation users to monitor their usage and river levels closely.

All of Marlborough’s rivers have minimum flow levels at which consent holders are required to shut them off – several rivers are rapidly approaching those thresholds.

The Rai River fell below the 1 cubic metre per second shutoff threshold last Friday, with the Wairau River and Waihopai Rivers very close.

Residents are concerned the potential increase in trucks will create more noise, dust and safety risks. Photo: Chloe Ranford.

Rocky road ahead for council over quarry objections

Marlborough District council bosses face a logistical nightmare as plans to dig rock from a rural quarry come under fire from residents.

Simcox Quarry Limited is seeking permission to dig up to 90,000 tonnes of rock a year from the Barracks Road quarry in the Omaka Valley.

But 113 submissions to the resource consent application opposed the plan and just three in support.

A report presented to council’s environment committee last week says officials could “easily require a week” of hearings to listen to the 82 submitters that asked to speak on the consent in person.

“This presented a logistical challenge in terms of planning the hearing, providing a venue that could accommodate such a large number of submitters … and managing the volume of material required for the hearings,” it reads.

The hearings were cut down to two days, with a third set aside “if required”, after the council asked Omaka Valley residents to be represented by one member.

Residents are concerned the works would be a safety risk, generate “unbearable” noise, and “severely deteriorate” lifestyles.

Simcox Construction had mined the quarry since 1998, but management was passed to Simcox Quarry Limited in 2018.

Simcox Quarry asked last June to run the quarry for an “unlimited” time period, estimating it would last for “more than 100 years”.

Brookby Rd residents Mary and Rickard Potez say the plans could see an end to “peace in the valley”.

“It [is] inconceivable and deplorable to grant a legacy to future generations of 100 years of destroyed peace in the valley,” they say.

Simcox say the quarry is crucial for Marlborough’s flood control, has “significant” positive effects, and that dust, noise, and hazards would be well managed.

But fellow Brookby Rd resident and Wairau Hospital orthopedic surgeon Rick Wilson says the possible increase in truck traffic was “abhorrent” and would “inevitably result in accidents”.

“Without being unduly melodramatic, the mix of locals, visitors and heavy vehicles is ‘a tragedy waiting to occur’,” he says.

Fairhall School principal Stephen Crockett says an increase in traffic would heighten the risks for students who lived on or travelled along the trucking routes.

LDR - Local Democracy Reporting

Council cover their base

Work has begun on replacing part of the aging roof at Marlborough District Council as a $750,000 makeover begins.

The 46-year-old roof was proving too expensive to keep patching up.

In 2018 investigators discovered it had started to sag, causing water damage to walls, ceilings, carpet and lighting.

Council economic, community and support services manager Dean Heiford says council chambers would be “a bit noisy” during the roof repairs but could still be used.

He says one of the council’s resource consent hearings would be held off site, likely at Scenic Hotel Marlborough, in Blenheim.

Council have opted to build a new timber and steel roof structure and membrane over the current timber-framed roof, using the old structure to support the new one.

Water-damaged walls on the ground floor of the building will also be repaired.

Asbestos discovered in wall claddings would be removed and disposed of.

Council will also upgrade windows and cladding at the top level, and improve the fire escape.

Last August, the roof replacement was estimated to cost about $400,000 but the figure doubled thanks to window replacements, asbestos removal and the “complexity of [the] job”.

Dean says work would run from February to “take advantage of the weather”, and to fit in with contractors and suppliers.

The council announced a tender last August, requesting information and pricing on replacing the roof, after it was issued a building consent to undertake repairs last May. It received three responses.

LDR - Local Democracy Reporting

Assets and services manager Richard Coningham. Photo: Supplied.

Council to get picky over Potholes

Paula Hulburt and Chloe Ranford/LDR

Problematic potholes across the region could be getting fixed faster.

Marlborough District Council has awarded a seven-year road maintenance and renewal contract worth $160 million jointly to Fulton Hogan and HEB.

And service staff have pledged to put “greater emphasis” on ridding the region of potholes.

Assets and services manager Richard Coningham says there will also be more road inspections.

“There will also be increased CBD street cleaning and unsealed road and motorcycle route maintenance.

“Greater emphasis will also be placed on maintaining Marlborough Sounds’ roads,” he says.

Council invests over $12 million each year in roading maintenance and renewal projects around the Marlborough region.

As the owner of the local roading network, council is responsible for maintaining 242km of footpaths, 917km of sealed roads, 630km of unsealed roads and 367 bridges.

“We’ve worked with Marlborough Roads to ensure we are getting good value from this contract – we’ve kept any cost increases to a minimum,” Richard says.

New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) top of the south system manager Andrew James presented his report on the roading contract to the council’s assets and services committee meeting on Thursday.

He says he expects to see a lift in performance.

Under the new contract, footpaths in Picton and Blenheim’s town centres would be cleaned “at least once a week” by a scrubbing machine.

Picton Business Group chairman Graham Gosling floated the idea during last year’s annual plan.

​Councillor Gerald Hope says Blenheim’s town centre was looking a bit dowdy.

“Look at the amphitheatre … The synthetic grass is filthy, and the birds don’t help. As good as the contract is going to be, we have to lift the standard in the CBD,” he says.

The contract starts on 1 April 2020.

Mark Smith Reserve in Blenheim is one of four parks set to benefit from an upgrade. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Cash boost child’s play for council

A Picton playground will get a $60,000 revamp in a bid to make it accessible to all children.

Victoria Domain play area off Hampden Street is set for an upgrade which will include a new basket swing.

The swing makes it easier for children of all abilities to play together.

The old black matting will also be replaced with bark to make it safer and improve appearance.

Marlborough District Council’s Assets and Services Committee has agreed to fund improvements to the tune of $241,000 across four parks.

Deputy Mayor Nadine Taylor says funding for the upgrades was allocated at the Land Subdivision Account meeting in August last year.

“These upgrades are really great news for families and children across Marlborough and follow the opening of new playground facilities at Pollard Park, Renwick Domain and Mark Smith Reserve last year.”

Westwood Reserve, Ballinger Park and Mark Smith Reserve in Blenheim will all benefit from the funding boost.

The new park Westwood Reserve has been in the pipeline since the subdivision was developed in 2016.

Council staff have been working with community representatives on a suitable playground design.

The new playground will feature a landslide platform, climbing wall, fireman’s pole and a timber-framed swing.

A new flying fox will go up in Ballinger Park off of Budge Street and a new pathway at Mark Smith Reserve will be built to connect to the Taylor River tracks.

The committee decision is subject to Council approval on 27 February.

Marlborough District Council solid waste manager Alex McNeil at Blenheim’s recycling centre. Photo: Matt Brown.

Bigger bunker a boom for festive season

A giant new bunker used for recycled glass is open for empties – just in time for the busy festive season.

The Blenheim Resource Recovery Centre has nearly doubled its glass recycling capabilities thanks to a funds boost.

A $15,000 grant from the Glass Packaging Forum (GPF) plus $50,000 from Marlborough District Council paid for the new bunker.

Council solid waste manager Alec McNeil says that at this time of year the old bunkers would quickly full up.

However, by increasing the bunker size by 80 per cent, this should no longer be an issue, he says.

“The additional storage capacity for glass will ensure that the quality of cullet (recycled glass) being returned to O-I New Zealand (in Auckland) for processing is not compromised,” he says.

O-I New Zealand is the country’s only container glass manufacturer and uses recycled glass to make new bottles.

Glass must be sorted into clear, green and brown before it can be used to make new glass bottles.

Glass Packaging Forum Scheme Manager Dominic Salmon says the centre plays an important role in getting cullet from the South Island to Auckland.

“Funding projects like this, which result in improving the quality and quantity of glass available for recycling is a main objective of the GPF,” he says.

The GPF has help fund other projects in Marlborough, including rural recycling containers in Seddon, Okiwi Bay, Awatere Valley and Oyster Bay, as well as the new recycling hub at Havelock Marina.