Some Lower Hutt residents feel like they're living behind "prison walls" due to fences put up at the back of their properties as part of a new housing development.

But the developer says the fences and the land underneath them had been developed to council requirements and they were doing all they could to work with affected neighbours.

One man living on Taita Drive in Avalon, who did not want to be named, said other neighbours he spoke to were upset about the development.

He said people were losing sunlight "or having these massive fences that are like prison walls".


Because the fences were being built a short distance away from existing property fences, a small gap was created that he believed pets and rubbish could get stuck in, and weeds would grow in.

A number of residents now have a large fence looming over their back yards. Photo / Melissa Nightingale
A number of residents now have a large fence looming over their back yards. Photo / Melissa Nightingale

"Who is supposed to take care of that?

"The council have just dropped the ball massively ... It's an election year and that's not lost on any of us."

The land in the development site had been raised, meaning the new fences were built from the new land height, rather than the height of the existing properties.

His was one of the first new fences to go up.

"It's a joke. It's not straight, it's not plumb, it's not been built very well, and 'not happy' is an understatement."

The resident said he and other neighbours were "getting the run around" from the Hutt City Council.

"I've spent a lot of time researching this stuff. Days, literally. It's the only way to try and get ahead of it and figure out what we can do and what they're doing wrong."


Developer Rudy van Baarle said the land had been raised because they were required by council to do so to combat potential flooding and drainage issues in the new subdivision.

He "totally understands" how residents could be upset about the size of the fences in their back yards, but said only a few people had large fences and it was a choice between having the fence or having someone's house overlooking the property.

"I understand people's angst. We're trying to do everything we can to alleviate it," he said.

He believed some people were simply upset there was a subdivision going in on what was previously a school paddock, but said the area was always residential, it had just never been developed.

"I think most people don't appreciate how much work is involved and how long it takes to get a subdivision underway," he said.

"The whole process took a year to resolve ... there seems to be an impression that some people just put in a resource consent and it just happens overnight and you just do whatever you want.

Ann Wilson will feel
Ann Wilson will feel "bloody closed in" when the fence is completed at the back of her property. Photo / Melissa Nightingale

"It's a very in-depth consultation process to make sure that all the issues that are important such as flooding and draining and such are all mitigated."

Another resident, Sue Newton, said she had not been consulted on the new fence.

"It's just the lack of consultation and the disrespect for the people that are here," she said.

"Yeah we need housing, but, you know, there's what's right and what isn't.

"I accept that a fence can go up there and we've lost all that lovely view over the green trees ... [but] when you buy a property like this and you see a school paddock, you expect it to remain that way, and if it's going to change you expect some consultation.

"The whole thing that I'm annoyed with is that water finds its natural path of [least] resistance ... it's going to come through our properties. We already get flooding out at our gate."

Van Baarle said engineers had been consulted to make sure stormwater drainage was adequately dealt with.

He said his team had individually visited each affected resident and many were "happy and satisfied".

They were doing everything they could to work with people and address their concerns, and were more than willing to continue meeting with them, he said.

Ann Wilson, who lives on De Menech Grove, has had large posts put outside her back yard that extend above the gutters of her home - but she has been told the posts will be shortened when the fence is completed.

Wilson said even with the posts shortened she would be "bloody closed in" and would have little privacy or sunlight.

"They are going to have a house quite close to the fence," she said.

Wilson was "pissed off" at the situation and already felt "hemmed in" with the beginnings of the new fence in place.

Residents will be attending a meeting tonight with council and van Baarle to discuss concerns about the development and fencing.

According to a Hutt City Council spokeswoman, measurements for the height of a fence were taken on the site upon which it is built. In this case, measurements had to be taken from the approved subdivision ground level.

The posts for the fence by Ann Wilson's house extend above the gutters, but she has been assured the fence will not actually be that high. Photo / Supplied
The posts for the fence by Ann Wilson's house extend above the gutters, but she has been assured the fence will not actually be that high. Photo / Supplied

Fences could be two metres tall without needing council's permission as per the District Plan.

"If members of the public have any concerns about developments and whether rules have been breached dedicated compliance officers investigate straight away, after visiting the site."

Helen Oram, divisional manager environmental consents at Hutt City Council, said the rules for whether a private development consent needed to be notified were set out in the Resource Management Act meaning the council would not usually consult with the community nearby. In this case the council had held several meetings with residents and would be present at tonight's.

She said interventions being put in place by the developer, including a large pipe in the roadway and drainage in the bottom of the retaining wall would prevent any new flooding for existing houses.