Albany St cycleway hits another snag

Several carparks on Albany St are set to be removed for a new cycleway. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Several carparks on Albany St are set to be removed for a new cycleway. PHOTO: ODT FILES
After being accused of riding "roughshod" over due process, the Dunedin City Council is set to have another go at consultation over a contentious cycleway.

Pressing ahead with the Albany St project in North Dunedin without pausing for more talks could make it vulnerable to a legal challenge, the council disclosed.

The project would consume or reposition dozens of carparks, and property owners and business people in the area have been perplexed by the Dunedin City Council’s approach to consultation.

At least some of the consultation may need to be done again.

The council referred to the potential for court action in the agenda for today’s infrastructure services committee meeting.

"Initial legal advice is that the consultation process is potentially open to challenge, and it would be prudent to re-consult in relation to the project.

"Re-consultation will ensure that council’s process is robust and that all affected parties have the opportunity to be heard."

This could delay the project, but there would be "substantially more delay (and cost) if council’s process was challenged through the courts".

Property owner Greg Paterson was one submitter who told a hearing in December last year a series of small businesses had not been identified as key stakeholders and had not been directly consulted.

This was backed up a month later by Leith St Liquorland owner Chris Hart, who said failure to notify businesses as stakeholders and affected parties had corrupted the process.

"They’ve treated the whole thing as a fait accompli and rode roughshod over due process," he said.

Mr Hart said the council had been, at best, negligent and, "at worst, it can be interpreted as cherrypicking who to consult to get a predetermined result".

The council has not previously accepted this interpretation. It has yet to respond to a request for comment about consultation costs.

The Albany St project has been described by the council as aiming to provide a safe walking and cycling connection between the Otago Harbour shared path and the city’s tertiary education area and central business district.

The council consulted on a proposal in 2022.

Concepts were developed following discussions with key stakeholders, including the University of Otago, Otago Polytechnic, Tūhura Otago Museum, student representatives, the disability community and user groups, the council said.

Another round of consultation was carried out last year in response to feedback.

In December, Dunedin deputy mayor Cherry Lucas said three carparks should be added on the northern side of Albany St, but she was outvoted 2-1 at the hearing on recommending this to the council.

Otago University Students’ Association representatives spoke in favour of the project.

Transport modes such as buses and cycling were well used in the area and many students lived within walking distance of the university campus, they said.

University strategic architect Gordon Roy told the hearings committee loss of parking in Albany St was a project negative, but wider benefits outweighed this.