Hutt City Libraries Online Heritage Collection > Texts

Lower Hutt Past and Present (1941)

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Town Planning

The city is recruited from the country.—Emerson.
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A Proposed City on the Hutt River.

The first attempt at town planning in New Zealand.
—Reproduced from a copy of the original plan by kind permission of the Wellington Harbour Board
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Although much is made of town planning in the Hutt Valley at the present time, the idea, as applied to the district, is even older than the settlement. Over one hundred years ago Samuel Cobham laboured in his office in London, and produced a plan of the City of Wellington, intended to be laid out in the Valley of the Hutt.
This plan, which is reproduced, may appear amusing in some of its details, but many wise provisions were made, including reserves for public buildings, school sites, theatre sites, large squares and docks, and a reservation of seventy yards wide surrounded the town as a permanent open space. The four forts at the outskirts of the town have, very conveniently, and even suggestively, cemetery reservations at the rear.
In contrast to the detailed information that is required to-day, aerial surveys, contour maps, etc., Cobham's topographical information must have been very meagre, for apparently he understood that the Valley contained a plain some one and a-half miles in width with a navigable river one-sixth of a mile wide flowing directly through the centre.
As told elsewhere in this book, the proposed township was never surveyed in the Hutt Valley, but the plans were altered and the City laid out where Wellington stands to-day.
The first settlement survey in the Hutt Valley was made by Samuel Charles Brees, principal surveyor to the New Zealand Land Company. This survey was executed in 1843, and laid out a number of bush sections, but made no attempt to locate a town site. Nevertheless, this early survey greatly influenced later developments, and most of the borough's east-west roads follow or are parallel to these old survey lines.
Town settlement grew haphazardly around the Fort Richmond stockade at the Hutt River bridge, and along the river banks to the south.
It was not until 1859 that a small township site was laid out by Surveyor Fitzgerald just south of Whites Line and on the east bank of the river. This township of Richmond did not develop, as it was badly located off the main communicating roadways, and apparently it was intended to be served by water, at a landing named Victoria Quay.
In the succeeding years settlement grew about the main road and the Hutt Bridge. Although it was all of a haphazard nature, it served usefully as a township for the prosperous surrounding rural area.
When the district was constituted a Borough in 1891, the population within the boundaries was 1,329, and ten years later, at the instigation of Mr. E. P. Bunny, the first Building By-laws were adopted by the Lower Hutt Borough Council. These By-laws not only controlled all construction, but also set out the requirements for residential site area and frontage, airspace about buildings, and the height of buildings. Much is owed to this far-sighted Council, for to-day there are no small residential allotments, no over-crowding of dwellings, and no slum areas.
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The first practical planning scheme was instituted in 1925 by the then Mayor, Mr. W. T. Strand, when he envisaged the extension of the railway to the eastern area of the borough and the purchase of the adjoining areas. A town planning competition was held for the lay-out of this area.
With the construction of the new railway, the planned layout of the areas adjoining Woburn and Waterloo Stations, and the removal of the Railway Workshops to the industrial area, the population increased rapidly, and doubled itself in the succeeding ten years.
In 1936 the Ford assembly plant was built, and through the initiative of the Mayor, Mr. J. W. Andrews, a town planning officer (Mr. R. D. H. Hill) was appointed.
Industrial, commercial and residential zones were defined, and during the phenomenal growth of the past five years all building development has been
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Lower Hutt's New Hospital.

The Hospital and the Nurses' Home adjoining are at present under construction.
—The Architect's drawing, reproduced by Courtesy Wellington Hospital Board
directed into its appropriate zone. The bulk and height of buildings and the airspace about the buildings have been rigidly controlled by regulations under the scheme, and the many large subdivisions, particularly the subdivisions of the Department of Housing Construction, have been co-ordinated with a planned roading scheme for the borough area.
This borough scheme should be eventually incorporated in a statutory town planning scheme for the whole of the Hutt Valley area, thus ensuring for the city of the future adequate communications, parks and open spaces, and the controlled disposition of industrial, commercial and residential development.
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Lower Hutt Valley
A Plan for the Future

This plan is not intended to forecast the exact street pattern of the future, but to give some idea of the possibility of the ultimate co-ordination of the street system and the probable main features of development.

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