Pip and Dave Thomson, with baby Jules (5 months) at their
Middlemarch business, as work to remove the shop's front
deck continues behind them. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
A Middlemarch woman's attempt to improve her business by
extending a front deck has fallen foul of the New Zealand
Pip Thomson bought the town's old general store on the main
street a few years ago and spent about $120,000 renovating
The upgrades included a deck in front of the building, from
which she operates her business, Cycle Surgery Rail Trail
But a deck extension protruded 1.8m over the 3.5m footpath
along State Highway 87 and the NZTA said it blocked
motorists' view at the highway intersection with Aberafon St.
The NZTA said visibility at the intersection was about 20m
less than minimum legal requirements for give-way-controlled
Having also received letters of concern from Middlemarch
police and the Strath Taieri Community Board, the NZTA denied
Mrs Thomson's retrospective application for a licence to
occupy road reserve, which she made when she realised it was
DCC chief building control officer Neil McLeod said Mrs
Thomson's initial deck was given consent by the council, but
the extension over road reserve was under the NZTA's
NZTA Otago Southland operations manager Roger Bailey said
structures on state highway road reserve were only permitted
in exceptional circumstances and when public safety was not
at risk. Aside from the fact Mrs Thomson's deck fell short of
minimum legal requirements, Mr Bailey said he could not
ignore "credible" letters from the police and community board
warning of the dangers posed by the deck extension.
"We've tried to be fair and reasonable, and looked at it
objectively. Of particular concern to the agency is the
police have advised of several near misses at the
intersection," he said.
Visibility was so bad the NZTA planned to move forward
give-way lines and install no-stopping signs to ensure no
vehicles parked within 5m of the intersection.
Mrs Thomson said the deck had been in place since February
last year and had not caused any traffic problems.
"Right along we've done as we've been asked and what we've
believed to be right. The only thing I've had has been
positive comments from people coming and saying it [the deck]
is an improvement," she said.
Mrs Thomson said it was a shame her attempt to improve
visitors' experience was thwarted. She believed complaints to
the NZTA about the deck were motivated by a personal dispute
in the town involving her husband, an allegation denied by
those in question.