Hutt City Council remains fully committed to the partnership with the Greater Wellington Regional Council, Waka Kotahi/NZ Transport Agency and mana whenua so that together we can deliver the full transport, resilience and economic benefits for our community.
Hutt City Council, Greater Wellington Regional Council and NZTA are all united in their support of the RiverLink project.
RiverLink is the largest and most complex capital project in our city’s history. Once completed, RiverLink will greatly improve flood protection for central Lower Hutt. The project also aims to stimulate the urban renewal of the central city and significantly upgrade transport connections and safety for all modes in the area via the Melling interchange and proposed pedestrian bridge.
It is estimated that more than $400 million will be invested in RiverLink. Hutt City Council has committed $55M to RiverLink as outlined in our Long Term Plan and on 18 June Council committed $5.43M to the project as part of the Annual Plan 2020/21.
The consenting phase is underway, with consents to be lodged in early 2021. Construction is scheduled to start in late 2022 and be completed in 2026.
The RiverLink Board has its own governance, accountability and reporting framework. This is supplemented by regular reporting to each party. For Hutt City Council this will be via an 8-weekly cycle of reporting to Council.
Last week Greater Wellington Regional Council approached the RiverLink Board to make a submission on the draft Bill to fast-track RiverLink.
The two days Council had as a member of the Board to support a request for fast-tracking RiverLink was insufficient to do due diligence on such a complex and multi-faceted project.
The key concerns were around consultation and engagement, and geotechnical investigations had not been completed to inform Hutt City Council designs. More work is required for Hutt City Council design – the due diligence reference, to work out the preferred design solution and thereafter indicative costings. The RiverLink Board have endorsed enhanced consultation in recognition of the scale and complexity of the overall programme.
It was noted that there was significant work to do on the nature of consultation and engagement to meet the fast-track standard as well as needing to agree on deliverability, funding, geotechnical work and design issues around the city edge and bridge. It was noted that Council’s expectation of meaningful engagement with mana whenua must not be undermined through a fast-track process. As such, the threshold for meeting the fast-track requirements could not be met within the compressed timeframe.
Hutt City Council was and remains supportive of Greater Wellington pursuing a fast-track process for their component of the project, i.e. the flood protection work, should they wish to do this.
All parties want to ensure that we have plans that are fully deliverable.
Geotechnical investigations are part of any design process. Geotechnical investigations have been undertaken to inform the initial design for Melling intersection, the river bridge, stopbanks, and more will be undertaken in the lead up to construction to inform the detailed design phase for the whole RiverLink project.
Engineering challenges are common on sites across the Wellington Region, including Lower Hutt. This has not curtailed development, rather it informs building design. There are often engineering solutions available, evidenced by successful developers like the Wellington Company and Kevin Melville now developing sites nearby the proposed promenade.
Ground conditions underneath and surrounding the War Memorial Library, for example, have informed our approach to seismic strengthening. The Sebel Hotel required a geotechnical report to provide critical data for the building’s design.
We will continue to work with our community to refine RiverLink while also understanding and providing for any design challenges as we progress our due diligence.
- Project Partner Agreement signed April 2019
- Consent Lodgement early 2021
- Construction late 2022
- Completion 2026