Why are you reviewing natural hazards?
Some parts of Lower Hutt are at risk from natural hazards and there may be opportunities for the district plan to identify and manage these risks better.
Council is required to start a review of the district plan within 10 years of it becoming operative. The current district plan became operative in 2003/2004. While some parts of the district plan have been reviewed since then, other parts have not, including the parts of the district plan that address natural hazards.
How do I find out if my property could be affected by natural hazards?
Council has some existing information on areas that are susceptible to natural hazards. If you are interested in the information that is relevant for your property, you can contact the council (04 570 6666 or firstname.lastname@example.org) or look at the GWRC and Wellington Water links on the previous page.
In addition, as part of the district plan review, council is undertaking further assessments of some natural hazards, including flooding, tsunami and slope instability. These assessments will also be available from the council once they have been completed.
What does it mean if my property is shown in a natural hazard area?
If your property is shown in a natural hazard area of the district plan, there will be objectives, policies and/or rules in the plan that manage new uses and new development on your property. This may include objectives, policies and rules on new buildings or alterations to existing buildings. The purpose of the objectives, policies and rules will be to control the risk from the natural hazard.
Why are you intensifying development in Lower Hutt when there are so many natural hazards?
There are some areas that may be at risk to natural hazards where intensification is still acceptable, particularly where it can be shown that the additional development will not increase the level of risk or the risk can be managed by taking certain measures. This will particularly be the case where the risk can be addressed through the design of the new development (for example, where new buildings have higher floor levels to avoid flooding).
What is council going to do about the natural hazard risks?
Council will consider the appropriate approach through the district plan review to manage natural hazard risk. This will include looking at which activities should be allowed in areas which are vulnerable to natural hazards and which activities should require resource consent, so the risk can be assessed on a case by case basis.
Doesn’t the building code cover building to protect from natural hazards?
Some risks from natural hazards can be addressed through the building code, including risks associated with ground shaking from earthquakes. However, other problems such as whole areas prone to flooding cannot be solved by the design of buildings. This is why management of natural hazard risk is addressed jointly through requirements of the building code and the district plan, and the RMA requires district plans to manage significant natural hazard risk.
Are there alternative ways to deal with natural hazard risks?
There are many alternative ways of dealing with natural hazard risks, and no one approach is the best approach for all situations. The district plan is one mechanism to control the type and quality of new development at risk of hazards. The building code can provide specific construction requirements and there are a range of other mechanisms such as engineering works, adaptation strategies, resilience plans and insurance that also play a role in natural hazard risk management.
Some areas may have a very low level of risk, in which case it may be appropriate to simply accept the risk. At the other extreme some areas may have a very high level of risk, with hazards that could result in significant loss of life and property. In this case it may be appropriate not to allow any further development to avoid any increase in risk. In an even more extreme case it may be appropriate to plan for a managed retreat from an area to reduce the risk.
However, between these two extremes there will be a lot of cases where there will be some natural hazard risk, but further development should be allowed if that development is able to manage the risk to an acceptable level, either by putting the new development in the right location or by addressing the risk through the design of the development or other measures.