Court’s ‘shock’ ruling on walkway
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.’’