Turning part of Dunedin's Octagon into a car-free zone
could be just the start of a wider push to make the central
city more pedestrian-friendly, council staff say.
As councillors prepared to discuss the proposed trial of a
vehicle-free lower Octagon and lower Stuart St again this
afternoon, a staff report noted work was already under way
that could eventually see other parts of the city following
The report, by council acting urban design team leader Dr
Glen Hazelton, said the council and its stakeholders were
already working on a business case for a new central city
accessibility and safety upgrade.
The upgrade was the highest priority project to emerge from
the council's integrated transport strategy, completed last
year, and aimed to address ''high levels of conflict''
between different types of road users, he said.
The upgrade would focus on ''increased pedestrian priority''
and new pedestrian facilities, including the possibility of
other ''pedestrianisation options'' in the central city.''
Partial or full pedestrianisation of parts of the central
city could be possible options,'' he said.
Dr Hazelton's report came after the idea of closing the lower
Octagon and lower Stuart St - between the Octagon and Moray
Pl - re-emerged during this year's budget deliberations.
University of Otago students Alexis Belton and Georgina
Hampton made a joint submission calling for the concept to be
trialled, prompting councillors to ask council staff to
report back on options later this year.
Dr Hazelton, contacted this week, said the wider work on a
new central city business case was needed to help secure
future New Zealand Transport Agency funding for projects.
The agency wanted councils to demonstrate how projects
aligned with broader plans before funding was allocated, he
The council was therefore working to identify what
improvements were needed across the central city, what the
best solutions were for each, and how they ranked against
It was too soon to say whether pedestrianisation might be the
preferred option in some areas, but it would be considered,
alongside greater use of shared spaces, lower vehicle speed
limits and other initiatives.''
We've gone through the problem definition phase. We haven't
got to what are the solutions yet. That's the next phase.''
The report detailing options for a trial closure of the lower
Octagon and lower Stuart St to vehicles might also suggest
trialling the concept in another part of the city instead, as
one option to be considered, Dr Hazelton said.
The council was also, together with the University of Otago,
Otago Polytechnic and other parties, considering whether the
area around the North Dunedin campus was suitable for new
Any new pedestrian-only zones or other physical changes were
likely to be ''a few years away yet'', and required public
But, whatever the outcomes, Dr Hazelton predicted there was
likely to be more debate on potential pedestrianisation
options in the future.
''I think more and more we're going to see that - it will be
about how you strike that balance between people and vehicles
across the central city.''
Dr Hazelton's report, to be considered at today's planning
and regulatory committee meeting, outlined the steps to be
followed before a trial of the lower Octagon and lower Stuart
St closure could be considered.
Any trial was not expected to begin until early next year,
following a ''robust'' information gathering and consultation
''But it's still very much along the lines of if council does
the trial, because there is ... lots of angsty views on it,''
he told the ODT.
The range of ''potential issues'' to be considered included
the impact on cruise ship buses, access issues for people
with disabilities and the loss of on-street parking, his
Councillors would have their say on the trial's goals at a
non-public workshop by the end of next month, before options
were reported to the council by October 28.
A two-month public consultation period would follow, before
councillors decided in January whether to proceed with a
trial, which would - if approved - begin the following month,