Council yields on street naming policy

The developer of a Mosgiel subdivision has won the right to name his own streets and pathways, but only after threatening to use hard-to-pronounce Scottish village names instead.

Murray Paterson, the developer behind the Glen Rothes Estate subdivision at Mosgiel, had sought Dunedin City Council approval to name two public roads and two private paths within the development.

He suggested Caledonian Dr and Cavan Pl as names for the public roads, and Roblyn Pl and Harley Lane for the private paths.

The road names were quickly accepted by councillors at this week's infrastructure services committee meeting, who noted their Scottish historical links sat well with the council's road naming policy.

However, furrows of worry began appearing as the debate turned to Roblyn Pl and Harley Lane.

Council information support officer Bruce Hall said Harley Lane was the family name of a former landowner, while Roblyn Pl was a ''play'' on the names of other former landowners.

Neither complied with the council's road naming policy, which sought names reflecting an established theme, a historical person or event, a significant feature, a traditional or appropriate Maori name, or a name that recognised special service.

However, Mr Paterson had offered some alternatives if the two names were not accepted - Fochabar, Scourie and Lossiemouth.

They also did not comply with the council's policy, as they were considered ''difficult to spell and pronounce'' and the policy preferred names to be ''short, simple to spell and easy to recall'', Mr Hall's report said.

Cr Lee Vandervis said the alternatives seemed ''almost deliberately awkward'', but Mr Hall indicated the council was in a bind.

Approving names outside the policy would ''create a certain precedent'', but rejecting then could also create problems, as the developer would not offer other names, Mr Hall warned.

Council staff had already had ''a couple of fairly long discussions'' with Mr Paterson, and it ''literally took two months to get to this point'', Mr Hall said.

The council could reject the names, but might then have to come up with its own, he said.

Councillors were divided, as Cr Jinty MacTavish said the names ''quite clearly'' contravened the council's policy, while Cr Kate Wilson worried emergency services could be accidentally directed to Roslyn, rather than Roblyn Pl, if approved.

Cr John Bezett insisted his colleagues were being too prescriptive, but questioned why anyone would use the names of ''villages in Scotland'' anyway.

''Lossiemouth - it's a village in Scotland. Come on. It's about as meaningless as Roblyn Pl.''

Mr Paterson's names were eventually accepted when a vote went in his favour, seven to four.

Contacted after the meeting, Mr Paterson said the situation was ''unbelievable''.

He had been involved in subdivisions for 60 years, but it was his first encounter with the council's ''six pages of rules''.

''They [council] didn't want anything I put forward, which was crazy.

''I was trying to recognise people who were original owners of the land.''

chris.morris@odt.co.nz

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