The Wellington City Council last night reconfirmed its opposition to Transport Agency plans to build a flyover at the Basin Reserve.
Councillors agreed (by 8 votes to 7) that Mayor Wade-Brown and transport portfolio leader Andy Foster should meet the government to discuss the council’s continuing preference to seek an alternative option to the flyover. “We haven’t got anywhere with the Transport Agency,” said Councillor Foster. “But the Memorial Park decision (instructing the Agency to put the road underground) shows that changes can be made by politicians.”
Councillors also agreed to spend $50,000 from existing budgets to explore alternative non-flyover transport solutions around the Basin Reserve. “We have to find out if the other options will fly,” said Councillor Foster.
All councillors attended last night’s meeting, which began at 10.05pm after being postponed from its advertised starting time of 4pm. All councillors spoke – eight giving reasons why they didn’t like the flyover, and seven saying they wanted the flyover to be built.
Andy Foster moved six recommendations which were all passed at the end of the 60-minute meeting.
He said the council’s relationship with the Transport Agency no longer felt like a partnership, which was how it was originally described. He said the council shouldn’t support any project unless it liked the urban design. Referring to the vote in October last year, he said: “We said we didn’t like the flyover, the public said the same.”
Cr Iona Pannett: “The flyover has few friends. It will be a scar on the city. There is overwhelming opposition from my Mt Victoria community. But the Agency doesn’t want to listen.”
Cr Brian Pepperell: “I don’t support the flyover. The design has always troubled me. It would make our unique and beautiful city begin to look like just any other place where they’ve got things wrong.”
Cr Stephanie Cook: “The flyover has clearly been rejected by the public.”
Mayor Wade-Brown said there had been agreement on the need for grade separation of north-south traffic, and the council was wanting to find an acceptable solution.
Cr Helene Ritchie: “I am very concerned about the landscape of our city. The Thorndon overbridge gives us a warning.”
Cr Paul Eagle: “We have a duty to be fully informed about all the options. I’m not anti-car or anti-roads but the government has failed to listen to Wellingtonians.”
Cr Justin Lester: “The flyover has significant urban design issues. The location is not suitable for a flyover.”
Deputy Mayor Ian McKinnon was one of a minority of seven councillors who supported the flyover. He said investigation of other options had been robust, and the flyover would bring a positive economic impact by creating new jobs and reducing congestion.
Cr Ngaire Best felt the recommendations were “a proposal to delay progress.” Cr Ray Ahipene-Mercer said he didn’t believe there were any other options. Cr Swampy Marsh said Option X “didn’t stack up.” Councillor Leonie Gill said the flyover would benefit drivers from the eastern suburbs. Councillor John Morrison told his colleagues: “Some of you don’t want any cars or any roads. . . It would be ludicrous to explore more options.” Councillor Jo Coughlan agreed. “It’s the bridge or nothing…We’ve got to have infrastructure so we can continue to be internationally competitive.”
The four other recommendations agreed by councillors last night were:
* To request the Transport Agency to confirm in writing that it will not proceed with a Notice of Requirement to the relevant authority for the Ngauranga to Airport corridor plan components without council support for the flyover;
* To note receipt of a letter from Geoff Dangerfield, chief executive of the Transport Agency, regarding this extraordinary meeting. (Councillors were given a copy of the letter; it was not given to the media)
* The Council agree to decide its support for the flyover once the additional work referred to in the second recommendation has been done.
* Without resiling from the position in the first five recommendations, the Council will continue to work with the Transport Agency on mitigation options and proposals for the flyover.