Port Chalmers road plan to be reviewed

Beach St outside the Port Chalmers Library earlier this week. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Beach St outside the Port Chalmers Library earlier this week. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
A contentious plan to shift a pedestrian crossing and cut carparks outside the Port Chalmers Library is to be reviewed.

Proposed roading layout changes had been described as final, but NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi said yesterday the matter would be revisited.

The concession came after strong misgivings had been expressed about the library being set to lose eight carparks immediately in front of it, and lack of community consultation.

However, Port Otago chief executive Kevin Winders has argued that shifting the crossing along Beach St and away from the intersection with George St would improve safety.

Port Otago is leading the project and there has been input from NZTA and Dunedin City Council safety engineers.

The transport agency, which is the road-controlling authority, has been under pressure to explain its approach to community engagement amid anger from residents and the West Harbour Community Board about not being able to influence decision-making.

The city council is running a consultation process this month, but it is about parking time limits.

In a statement earlier this week, an NZTA spokesman said Port Otago "took a lead on early consultation" and representatives of the project had met community board and library representatives during planning of the proposed changes.

Mr Winders said he had talked to the community board for years about port projects and engaged on a regular basis.

Board members disputed they had been allowed any real say about the pedestrian crossing.

NZTA said yesterday it expected "the views of all those affected by the project are properly considered before any final decisions are made".

The agency had discussed the matter with the council and agreed, once the council’s existing consultation about parking time limits was completed, "we will review our position to determine how we move forward with the proposal".

"From the perspective of NZTA, there is no urgency to progress the proposal until an acceptable outcome is reached, including addressing community concerns."

Port Chalmers resident Anna High said this was a step in the right direction. The reference to "no urgency" suggested there was not an urgent safety problem at the existing crossing, she said.

She wanted a safety analysis to be carried out and information to be provided about parking occupancy, Dr High said. People needed to have input into more than just proposed parking time limits, she said.

Consultation to date had been insufficient, she said.

West Harbour Community Board members were worried about reduced access to a significant facility in the town.

Board chairwoman Ange McErlane said the push for dialogue would continue.

"I think, given the depth of concern and distress a lot of people are having over this, it would be nice if somebody talks to the board."