Riccarton Rd showdown looms

One of the longer-running battles between residents and the Dunedin City Council is finally due to be thrashed out: East Taieri homeowners are set to fight the city's plan to take some of their land to allow an upgrade of Riccarton Rd.

While the council says the issue is one of safety, some residents are suspicious it is more about the council wanting to develop the road into an arterial route.

A hearing in Mosgiel next Tuesday will sit to decide on a council application for a "notice of requirement", allowing it to take the land it wants for the project under the Public Works Act if residents refuse to sell.

While some of the 33 lots of land required are in the form of smaller strips at the road's edge, some owners would lose between 1000sq m and 2000sq m, and one would lose 5555sq m.

Riccarton Rd residents spoken to by the Otago Daily Times have said the majority of those living in the street opposed the planned upgrade, and would be reluctant to sell parts of their properties.

The future of Riccarton Rd West is an issue that has dragged on for up to 15 years.

The planned $5.4 million upgrade of a 4.2km stretch from Gladstone Rd South to State Highway 87 would include provision of a shared path for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders, widening and realignment, the provision of safety barriers, and widening of bridges and culverts.

The council cites the need to improve safety on the route as the driving force for the project.

A safety audit commissioned by the council last year found the road's narrow width threatened the safety of cyclists and pedestrians.

Two fatalities had occurred on the road in 16 months.

Some of those writing submissions said the real reason was the council's intention to turn the road into an arterial route.

Use of the road as an arterial route, the council's preferred option, has yet to be resolved.

The notice of requirement, which will be heard by commissioners Allan Cubitt, John Lumsden and Peter Constantine, attracted 31 submissions, 23 in opposition, seven in support and one with limited support.

A report by council planner Jacinda Baker noted the number of people questioning the council's motivation for the application.

She said the meeting was to consider the proposal's effects and its necessity for meeting council objectives, "not the reasons for it".

Ms Baker listed other submission topics raised she said could not be considered resource consent matters, including the cost of the work, the hearing process and the selection of commissioners, and future road maintenance requirements.

She recommended the hearing confirm the notice of requirement, with conditions relating to matters including construction and flood-hazard mitigation.

Riccarton Rd West Safety Society chairman Brian Miller this week said he already had concerns about the process, and the council's evidence.

Mr Miller said any decision would have to be "robust enough for the Environment Court".

- david.loughrey@odt.co.nz

 

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