Lower Hutt – Mills Street houses affected by Stopbank move

“It’s been a bolt from the blue,” said Matthew Flood, a resident of Mills St, Boulcott, for 37 years.

Residents had not been properly consulted on a Greater Wellington regional council plan to move a stopbank east, meaning up to 12 homes would go, he said.

“The bigwigs decided our homes should be bulldozed simply because we’re in the way.”

Flood protection manager Graeme Campbell said the council needed to move the stopbank to boost its flood protection.

The Hutt River was narrow near Mills St and there were fears the existing stopbank would not cope with a severe flood. “We just can’t afford a failure in the defences.”

A big flood in 1898 had prompted the building of stopbanks. The council was now considering two options.

One was to move the stopbank 30 metres to the east, meaning four homes would have to be shifted.

The second was to move it further, placing eight more homes in the firing line.

The council hoped to confirm its plan by the end of this week, Mr Campbell said.

Homes would be bought and moved, rather than bulldozed, he said. If homeowners refused to sell, land could be seized and compensation paid under the Public Works Act.

Mr Flood said he had never seen the stopbank threatened by a flood.

“The natural flow of the river curves away from Mills St, so any scouring is more likely to affect the opposite bank.”

A Mills St resident of 57 years, Tse Wk, said the council’s plans were not essential and a blow to the whole street. “I’ve got no idea why they want to do it.” A simpler option would be to clear the riverbanks of rubbish and debris.

The council has held two meetings with Mills St residents.

Hutt River advisory subcommittee member Peter Glensor said any work was five to 10 years away.

The matter came to a head when a Mills St house went up for sale two months ago and was bought by the council, Mr Glensor said.

“We didn’t think it was reasonable for someone to buy it, then be told of the situation.”

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