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Full support and total opposition are among the range of
business responses to a proposal to turn the lower Octagon
and part of lower Stuart St in Dunedin into a pedestrian-only
The proposal has also prompted concerns from taxi drivers.
The idea gained momentum recently, following a call from
University of Otago students Alexis Belton and Georgina
The pair took their plan, backed by a 36-page proposal, to
recent Dunedin City Council annual plan hearings.
Their pitch envisaged the area becoming the ''heart'' of
Dunedin's CBD and acting as a ''visual showpiece'' for the
It impressed councillors, who voted during deliberations to
ask council staff to report back on options to trial the
But any consultation undertaken is unlikely to find consensus
among those affected.
The area is home to bars and restaurants, businesses from
travel agents to florists, 15 pay and display car parks, and
areas of five-minute vehicle parking.
Stuart St bar Albar co-owner Anita Collins was a supporter.
''We're really for it,'' she said.
The zone would allow people to walk in the area without
worrying about traffic, something that could benefit
businesses, she said.
''For us, it would be brilliant.''
Miss Reid Florist owner Patsy Murphy was on the opposite side
of the argument.
''We don't want it,'' she said.
Five-minute parking areas were used by many who visited her
business, and older people who needed access to the nearby
She was also concerned about access for regular courier
Those concerns were echoed by Claire Grenfell, who owns the
Thistle Cafe and Bar and the Craic Irish Bar in the Octagon.
Mrs Grenfell said her preference would be for a ''shared
space'', which was common in Europe, where vehicles were
slowed down and pedestrians could more safely use the street.
The area would be ''a sad and lonely space'' during the week
in winter if vehicles were banned, she said.
She was also worried about the up to 20 deliveries a week to
the Craic - at all times a of day - and how they would get
Five-minute parks in the Octagon were useful for the cafe,
and even more so for Miss Reid Florist, she said.
Velvet Burger owner James Arnott said the proposal would need
to be considered alongside the council's ''restrictive''
outdoor furniture policy.
The proposal ''could be amazing'', although he, too, had
concerns about the loss of parking.
Other businesses spoken to were ambivalent about the change.
At the lower Octagon taxi stand, a taxi driver who would only
give his first name, Gary, said any such closure was ''a
hassle'' for drivers as the stand was a good for picking up
''Everyone complains about it when they do close it,'' he
''If it ain't broke, don't fix it.''