Regional Council to reconsider its support for Basin Reserve flyover

The Regional Council yesterday agreed to reconsider its earlier controversial decision to support a flyover round the Basin Reserve.

A motion from Councillor Paul Bruce was passed by seven votes to six.

As a result, the Regional Council has made the following decision:

“In light of the decision to place Buckle Street in a tunnel, the Council resolves that it should work with the NZ Transport Agency and the Wellington City Council to ensure that the full range of options for freeing up public transport movements through the Basin Reserve are on the table”.

Councillor Bruce said: “My motion is essentially asking for a review of the Basin Reserve flyover proposal … The council can shift its support to another option, if it believes this would get a better outcome… Undergrounding Buckle Street now makes Option X from the Architectural Centre eminently affordable, according to its designer Christine McCarthy. I believe there are better ways to proceed than with the bridge proposal.”

Councillors who voted for his resolution were Paul Bruce, Judith Aitken, Nigel Wilson, Paul Swain, Daran Ponter, Gary McPhee, Sandra Greg.

The Regional Council’s controversial decision to support the flyover was passed last November.

We reported at the time:

Seven members of the public spoke against the bridge. But the council had already made up its mind. Unlike the City Council, it didn’t allow itself a chance to reconsider. It should have done so, because the process was a dubious one. Its submission supporting the flyover was prepared by a committee, not by the full council, who weren’t given any say.

Observers at the (November 1) meeting saw that regional councillors had a high level of concern that the wrong decision had been made.

o Chris Laidlaw recommended taking a pause; he said the heritage issue had to be resolved. “It’s a mess,” he said There was only a “modest” need to spend and a whole lot of risks.

o Judith Aitken said the regional council had missed a leadership opportunity and acknowledged that once the roading plan gets to the Environmental Protection Authority, the public will have little chance of influencing anything.

o She and others wanted to record their reservations – but chair Fran Wilde said no, the submission was made.

o Nigel Wilson (a Kapiti councillor) supported all seven public submitters who were opposing the flyover, and expressed concern that he had not been able to vote on the submission because he’d not been on the committee.

o Paul Bruce, who had voted against the submission as a committee member, also supported all the public submitters

o Daran Ponter, the only other councillor who had voted against the submission, expressed concern about the lack of democracy within the Regional Council – no-one had seen the feedback received from the public by the Transport Agency

o Barbara Donaldson said that this was all happening the wrong way round i.e. there should be a spatial plan first and then plan transport needs.

o Prue Lamason felt the Regional Council had been put in the position, by the Transport Agency, where it can’t come up with a good decision

In short, the whole of the Regional Council seemed to be on the side of the seven presenters who were against the flyover – except for Fran Wilde. It was in the early 1990s, when she was mayor of Wellington, that her city council allowed a supermarket to be built in the unique viewshaft at the northern end of Cambridge Terrace. Twenty years later, she was presiding over a decision to allow a long concrete bridge to destroy the environment at the other end of Cambridge Terrace.


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