Bid to get rid of 'out of control' hedge before it costs ratepayers

A bid for urgent funding for the removal of a hedge at Waikuku Beach will be made to the...
A bid for urgent funding for the removal of a hedge at Waikuku Beach will be made to the Waimakariri District Council. PHOTO: LDR / ADAM BURNS
Maintenance of an "out of control" hedge at Waikuku Beach could cost local ratepayers tens of thousands of dollars over the next couple of years, despite plans for it to be cut down.

But there are hopes the axing of the shadowy shrub can be fast tracked, following suggestions its removal was at least another two years away.

Plans for the macrocarpa shelterbelt hedge, which stands between six to eight metres high on Parks Avenue, continue to cause headaches for the small beach town community, including funding avenues for the hedge’s swift removal.

A report was tabled at the Woodend-Sefton Community Board meeting a fortnight ago which recommended the hedge be removed.

However, it was initially proposed the project be considered for inclusion in the Waimakariri District Council’s 2024 Long Term Plan, with costs for the removal of the hedge and replanting estimated at about $105,000.

The hedge could also absorb ongoing maintenance costs "at health and safety levels" until it was removed in 2024/2025, according to the report.

Maintenance of the hedge costs the council about $20,000 for the first trim, followed by a further cost of "between $10,000 and $15,000 every 18 months".

During a public deputation at the April 11 meeting, Waikuku Beach resident Jo Kane fumed at the proposed timeframes following, what she described as, some drawn out deliberations with council staff on the matter.

"This was never the expectation from anyone in the community," she said.

"This is a longstanding and unsustainable maintenance issue and it really galls me that for the next three years you will have to trim this hedge back off the road.

"I feel really let down when I saw that piece of the report (indicating 2024).

"It needs to be gone, sooner rather than later."

The removal of the hedge was later approved, but the community board agreed to amend its previous recommendation, in order for a last ditch request to go to council for funding through this year’s annual plan.

Several concerns around the hedge were raised by residents during community consultation a year ago.

Ongoing maintenance costs, a lack of sunlight leaving ice and moss on the road, a desire for landscape views to be restored, and concerns the hedge was a fire risk were raised by those wanting it gone.

Other community members, favoring its retention, believed the hedge offered privacy and was a good windbreak for homeowners.

-By Adam Burns
Local democracy reporter

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