Auckland berm gardens face the chop

Auckland berm gardens face the chop

Auckland berms are back in the spotlight. After refusing to mow the grassy strips in 2013, Auckland Council quietly went back to cutting unruly berms again last year.

Now Auckland Transport is proposing a $150 fee for the right to garden on berms, and fruit and vegetables may have to go.

Richard Green has a bit of a bee in his bonnet about the new regulations.

"Let's plant gardens so people can have access to food," he says. "And it's colour. Grass is so boring, and it's not even native."

But it could be in with the grass and out with the fruit and vegetables that Mr Green shares with his neighbours, as Auckland Transport says they attract vermin.

Denise Bijoux's children planted the first seeds on her berm 15 years ago, and she says her cauliflowers haven't caused any problems.

She is willing to make changes, but would hate to see it gone altogether.

"I have no problem with replacing it if people have to dig it up," she says.

Gardens have never been encouraged by the council in the past, but they have not been strictly controlled either. Auckland Transport spokesperson Tony McCartney says the changes are about safety.

"It's people, little kids, running out from behind tall-growing vegetable or plants, and running out onto the road and getting hit by [a vehicle]."

If the regulations were put into place, Auckland would be in line with other councils.

In Nelson, berm gardens are not allowed at all. Hamilton and Tauranga approve selected planting, but the resident is responsible for maintenance.

Wellington is unique in that they supply free native plants suitable for growing in road reserve areas.

But none of these councils charge a licensing fee.

Under the new regulations, a berm garden would cost $150, with the size limited to two square metres, and a height limit of 60cm.

Auckland Transport is currently taking advice from local boards around Auckland before a final decision is reached.

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