Court’s ‘shock’ rul­ing on walk­way

South Waikato News - - NEWS -

South Waikato District Coun­cil’s de­ci­sion to close the Mel­rose Place walk­way has been over­turned by the En­vi­ron­ment Court.

The de­ci­sion was handed down by the court two weeks ago af­ter a hear­ing on De­cem­ber 19.

Coun­cil’s le­gal man­ager Richard Fisk and group as­sets man­ager Roger Fisher ap­peared on the coun­cil’s be­half.

Dur­ing last week’s Cor­po­rate and En­vi­ron­ment Com­mit­tee meet­ing Mayor Neil Sin­clair said he was shocked at the rul­ing.

‘‘ I think, we as coun­cil­lors were prob­a­bly shocked a bit when we dis­cov­ered the En­vi­ron­ment Court over­turned our de­ci­sion and their rea­sons for it. We have to ac­cept the En­vi­ron­ment Court.’’

Dur­ing the hear­ing the court lis­tened to all ev­i­dence, looked at the back­ground and his­tory of the walk­way, ex­am­ined the District Plan, stud­ied the sur­vey ma­te­rial and con­ducted their own as­sess­ment.

The En­vi­ron­ment Court’s key find­ings were:

That the pur­pose of walk­ways in re­la­tion to com­mu­nity con­nec­tiv­ity, good ur­ban de­sign and sup­port for alternative modes of trans­porta­tion is still im­por­tant.

There is good use of the walk­way by res­i­dents.

That con­cern about the safety of the lo­ca­tion of the walk­way exit and cross­ing Marae­tai Road could be ad­dressed in other man­ners.

Dur­ing last week’s coun­cil meet­ing Cr Brenda Watkins said the rul­ing was in­ter­est­ing.

‘‘ It was just in­ter­est­ing be­cause one of the rea­sons for the clo­sure was the safety an­gle for the fact that the walk­way opened out onto a busy road.’’

Mr Fisk added: ‘‘Coun­cil can re­visit the Mel­rose Place walk­way clo­sure in two years, should the com­mu­nity wish us to do so.’’

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