Fu­ture of berm plant­ing falls to coun­cil

Central Leader - - HEALTH - CA­TRIN OWEN

Auck­land’s berm rules could be in for a shake-up when over­sight is handed back to Auck­land Coun­cil next year.

Berms were in the spot­light four years ago when Auck­land Coun­cil an­nounced it would no longer mow grass verges in cen­tral sub­urbs as it handed re­spon­si­bil­ity to Auck­land Trans­port (AT).

In 2015 berms hit head­lines again when AT an­nounced road­side gar­dens would be out­lawed and pro­posed res­i­dents pay for a $150 li­cence if they wanted to de­vi­ate from strict new rules that were pro­posed.

It was met with back­lash from berm planters across Auck­land and even made in­ter­na­tional head­lines.

Now berm man­age­ment is head­ing back to Auck­land Coun­cil.

Auck­land Coun­cil act­ing head of op­er­a­tional man­age­ment and main­te­nance Si­mon Ran­dall said it was work­ing with AT to com­plete a trans­fer next year.

‘‘The trans­fer of main­te­nance re­spon­si­ble for berms has been in the pipe­lines for 18 months as part of our drive to get the best value and adopt a sin­gle ap­proach to main­te­nance across the wider coun­cil fam­ily,’’ Ran­dall said.

At this stage no plant­ing guide­line changes were pro­posed, he said.

AT never went through with the $150 fee as it was met with push back from lo­cal boards and mem­bers of the public.

AT spokesman James Ire­land said while berm plant­ing was tech­ni­cally not al­lowed, AT only trimmed or re­moved berm plant- ing if there were com­plaints or if plants over­hung a berm.

Berm plants must not be higher than 30cm around trees and mail­boxes, and over a to­tal area of no more than 2sqm.

Veg­etable plants are not per­mit­ted and fruit trees are banned as they at­tract ver­min.

In Oc­to­ber 2015, for­mer Mayor Len Brown told Stuff AT needed to dial the reg­u­la­tions back.

Waitem­ata¯ Lo­cal Board chair Pippa Coom said she was sup­port­ive of the change.

The $150 fee was ‘‘ridicu­lous’’, she said.

‘‘AT was com­ing at it from all the wrong di­rec­tions, in the mean­time peo­ple should go and do low level plant­ing that’s not ob­struc­tive.

‘‘I don’t think the new guide­lines should be on what’s al­lowed and not what’s al­lowed, but rather what’s best for the berms on a case-by-case ba­sis.’’

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