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Waikato Herald - 2021-10-15

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Protection of flora and fauna are key

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Plans for the new Peacocke community in south Hamilton will help create the first climate-ready neighbourhood in the city. Hamilton City Council is proposing changes to the Peacocke Structure Plan (Plan Change 5) that will help to build a climate-ready city by protecting the natural environment, wellplanned transport networks and welldesigned urban development. One key element of the plan change is to upgrade the protection status of ecological areas to Significant Natural Areas (SNAS) based on the indigenous vegetation (flora) and native animals (fauna) in the area. Strategic Growth Committee chairman councillor Dave Macpherson said this is good news for our critically endangered long-tailed bats (pekapeka-tou-roa), and all native species which call Hamilton’s southern gullies and forests home. “Our goal is to keep nature in the city. Improving biodiversity outcomes in our new neighbourhoods is essential to increasing our city’s resilience to climate change. We want Peacocke to be part of the solution, not the problem.” Ecological corridors, or ‘bat highways’, are part of the plans to protect pekapeka-tou-roa and allow them to move safely between their habitat both within the Peacocke area as well as other areas in the city. Additional protections in the plan include making sure that artificial lighting does not impact the bats and natural buffer zones between housing and bat habitats. Macpherson said transport, and how the expected 20,000 residents will move around the neighbourhood and connect to the central city, is also a major focus in the plan change. “Wider footpaths separated cycle lanes, and a strategic public transport network will give Peacocke residents active travel options and enable them to choose a low-carbon commute. Medium and high-density housing throughout the area also supports this goal. “We want people to be able to access everything they need within 20 minutes, without relying on private cars. We know from the council’s recent Climate Change Action Plan that 64 per cent of Hamilton’s carbon emissions come from transport. So our growth areas need to make it easier for people to leave their car keys at home.” The Peacocke Structure Plan is open to submissions from the public until November 5. For more information about the proposed plan and to have your say, visit hamilton.govt.nz/ Planchange5. Peacocke is being built with the support from the Government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund, made up of a $180.3 million 10-year interestfree loan and $110.1m of Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency subsidies. The Peacocke programme will deliver a new bridge, a transport network that caters for public transport, pedestrians and cyclists, parks, and strategic water, wastewater and stormwater networks. Other work includes protecting and enhancing the environment, including the extensive gully system, opening the area to the Waikato River, and investigating community facilities.

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