Plans to rezone Sounds bay leads to flood fears for residents

Plans to rezone parts of a popular bay in the Marlborough Sounds could be a wash-out for existing residents.

Any new properties at Ngakuta Bay, in the Queen Charlotte Sound, would have to go on land prone to flooding.

That land would therefore have to be in-filled, likely using slip material from landslides, before any construction work could go ahead.

But residents are worried the in-fill work could affect natural waterways, potentially flooding properties on the seaward side of Queen Charlotte Drive.

Ngakuta Bay resident Pam Tan said similar work in the late 1990s caused some flooding for those properties close to the water.

Tan said the waterways that were filled in “had to go somewhere”.

“It got into our properties and made life terrible,” Tan said.

“The water drowned the trees in the garden and caused them to die. It was unneeded hardship.”

Marlborough District Council environmental policy manager Pere Hawes said Ngakuta Bay’s rezoning was proposed as part of the Marlborough Environment Plan.

Hawes could not confirm the number of residential properties that would be built, saying that would “depend on the wishes of the landowner”.

A Growing Marlborough strategy in 2008 mapped out the potential for 30 new properties at Ngakuta Bay.

Angelique van der Velden said past residential developments had “significant impact” on existing residents.

“Following the creation of the housing development at the back of the bay, water is now being directed to our creek as opposed to dispersing naturally across the land and through alternative ditches, as it used to,” van der Velden said.

“When it rains, the creek receives an excessive amount of water and this then erodes land near the creek and, at times, floods our property.”

Van der Velden said she had considered evacuating her sleepout during heavy rain because the water levels got so high.

“We’re very aware that we can’t afford to fix any havoc the creek may wreck, including erosion, which is particularly worrying because of its proximity to the house.”

Tan, who lives near van der Velden, said the water had been a constant nuisance.

“Every time a neighbour comes around I have to warn them off the lawn because as soon as someone does the issue is made worse,” Tan said.

“The waterlogged soil is fine in summer, as you don’t need to water the plants, but in winter you need gumboots to walk around the property.

“The water has got so bad in the past that we’ve had issues with parking on the drive.”

Ngakuta Bay Residents Association member Ian Davies said houses on the seaward side of Queen Charlotte Drive were the ones most affected.

“They’ve always had a wet underfoot, but this might have been exacerbated by the council,” Davies said.

“The council filled in and then sold off properties that shouldn’t have been sold off.”

Tan said the council had built and rebuilt multiple drainage systems for residents over the years.

But these systems did not work, she said.

“The water still sits around 12 inches below the surface,” Tan said.

A council spokesperson said flooding in Ngakuta Bay was a “longstanding issue” and “not one that can be fixed overnight”.

Nobody at the council would comment on past in-fill work at Ngakuta Bay.

The council proposed a 78 per cent rates increase for Ngakuta Bay residents in its long-term plan, claiming the bay’s historically low rates were an “anomaly”.

The Ngakuta Bay Residents Association was still deciding whether they would oppose the rates proposal with a group submission.

Van der Velden said she hoped a solution for regional flooding was found soon.

“At the moment we’re planting along the creek to try and hold the erosion back,” she said.

Hearings on the proposed Marlborough Environment Plan continue until May 31.

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