by Lindsay Shelton
This morning I discovered that the government’s Transport Agency isn’t planning only to build a new cricket pavilion. It’s also pushing ahead with plans to create part of a golf course. Who knew that roading funds could be used in such diverse ways?
We’ve known about the possibility of a cricket pavilion for five years, ever since Kerry Prendergast (when she was mayor and before her new life as chair of the Environmental Protection Authority) said a flyover was the best option for Basin traffic, together with “buildings or other structures,” one of which would be a grandstand.
But though the Transport Agency has apparently been negotiating with Pautahanui golfers for more than ten years, its plans to go into the golfing business only emerged this morning when the DomPost reported that tenders have been called. The Agency is taking 2.5 hectares of the Pauatahanui Golf Club to make way for the four-lane Transmission Gully expressway. In return, reports the DomPost, it will be paying for new tees and greens, two new fairways and some timber buildings.
The golf course seems to have had a strong negotiator. Course convenor Ron Cox says:
We have a very good golf course out here, that works and can be played properly, and they’re coming along and knocking the guts out of it, so they have to give us back what we’ve got….The club had not been happy to learn it was affected by the expressway. However … if they don’t do those changes, then we don’t have a golf course and the only alternative is for them to buy the whole lot, and that’s an awful lot of money and an awful lot of upset golfers.
Well, the numbers aren’t huge. The club, we learn, has 150 members. It’s probably about the same as the number of cricketers who, the Agency has decided, need to be protected from seeing traffic on the Basin flyover.
It is interesting to check what Kerry Prendergast said about the flyover plans five years ago, when she was mayor:
one of the ‘bottom-line’ agreements between Greater Wellington Regional Council, the City Council and the NZ Transport Agency is that the ambience and relative tranquility of the Basin Reserve will not be compromised by any changes to the road. That’s why we’re looking at ideas such as enclosing the flyover within buildings and other structures. Such an approach would be aimed at removing visual and noise impacts.
The plan that will be seeking resource consent in February has failed to achieve what she was talking about and has failed to remove visual and noise impacts. The weird idea of enclosing the flyover within buildings has come to nothing. The “ambience and relative tranquility” of the Basin will be destroyed by the 300-metre concrete structure carrying two lanes of overhead traffic. In her new role as leader of an authority set up to protect the environment, she will no doubt be pondering on what she said five years ago.
Removing the visual or the noise impacts of a 300-metre flyover is an impossible task. And though the Transport Agency is keen to protect the sensibilities of cricketers from being distracted by seeing the raised traffic, it hasn’t been able to invent a way of protecting the rest of us. The flyover, if it’s permitted by the Environmental Protection Authority’s board of inquiry, will be a noisy and ugly intrusion into the ambience and tranquility of the streetscape around the cricket ground.