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But the Dunedin City Council would not say this week what aspect of the "ongoing detailed design" the new group would provide feedback on as the controversial project progressed.
Yesterday, neither Urban Access Dunedin Incorporated chairman Alan Race nor the Central City Business Group’s Neil Gaudin — who both presented their case for inclusion in the advisory group at the council’s June 30 meeting — could say what the advisory group would actually advise on but both confirmed they had been contacted by the council for possible inclusion in the group.
Mr Race was pleased to have been contacted, but unsure how much input the group would have after listening to the discussion at the last council meeting.
"Once they start the project and we’re past the point of no return, then we’re all stuck with what the consequences are — if they’re not good, that’s not helpful," he said.
"There’s just so much we don’t know yet."
On June 30, the council decided to provide for "inclusive engagement" on the detailed design of the project, but yesterday it declined to say what groups it had contacted and whether any discussion had been had as to what input on the detailed design included.
It would not say whether the planned 25% vehicle and 75% pedestrians and public space ratio was up for discussion at this stage, nor would it provide any example of what aspects of the design had yet to be finalised.
Mr Gaudin said he feared the advisory group could be divided and "achieve nothing".
Further, the newly established "project delivery control group", to be formed before construction begins, could be more influential at this stage.
"It sounds to me that that will be the one that has the teeth," Mr Gaudin said.
"It’ll be interesting to see what the tone of the first couple meetings [of the advisory group] is."
The Central City Business Group had 40 financial members, and arose alongside the petition for George St to retain two-way traffic, and also out of concern around the Octagon trials and a lack of consultation by the council.
Mr Race, a former AA Otago district council chairman, said he wanted to see the council’s traffic modelling.
"When you start slowing up speed limits, you start causing more congestion opportunities, which is actually contrary to the council’s goal of heading towards a carbon-neutral situation.
"I suppose the concern I have is ‘Do all these various policies link together or are they taking them as individual projects?"’
Cr David Benson-Pope, who first advanced the establishment of the group, said at this stage the "essence of the political argument is about how many car parks there are already".
A partial review showed that parking was available "even at peak times".
"The focus of our activities in the central city will remain ... on supporting and strengthening one of the country’s best retail shopping streets," Cr Benson-Pope said.
"That's why council is working on the free loop-bus concept ... to ensure the continued vitality of our CBD."