Foot­path link given green light

Taranaki Daily News - - News - BRIT­TANY BAKER

A $200,000 foot­path has fi­nally been given the go ahead af­ter five years of ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween the city coun­cil and a landowner over pow­er­lines.

The New Ply­mouth Dis­trict Coun­cil (NPDC) has been given the green light to build a path­way link­ing The Val­ley Mega Cen­tre in Wai­whakaiho to Bell Block across land owned by John Matthews, of bi­tu­men firm Tech­nix In­dus­tries.

The foot­path cur­rently stops 180m short, forc­ing peo­ple onto a busy stretch of State High­way 3.

New Ply­mouth Mayor Neil Holdom said coun­cil was pleased to come to an agree­ment that will ben­e­fit the wider com­mu­nity.

‘‘The new foot­path will pro­vide safe ac­cess for pedes­tri­ans and those on mo­bil­ity scoot­ers, who will be able to move be­tween The Val­ley and Bell Block with ease,’’ he said.

The new path will be up to five me­tres away from State High­way 3 and will be largely funded by the New Zealand Trans­port Author­ity with $50,000 from the NPDC.

The foot­path is ex­pected to be com­pleted by mid-2018.

Matthews’ de­scribed the pro­posed path as ‘‘a wind­ing board­walk’’ that would ‘‘wan­der in and out’’ and be ‘‘very at­trac­tive’’ for its users.

He said pedes­tri­ans have al­ways been wel­come to use the pas­sage­way at the front of his busi­ness but said the new path was ‘‘good news all around’’.

NPDC and Matthews were in a stand­still back in March be­cause he wanted a 140m stretch of pow­er­lines to be buried in or­der to pro­tect the growth of sev­eral po¯ hutukawa trees on his prop­erty.

The coun­cil said there was no need to bury the power lines be­cause the trees could sim­ply be trimmed, ac­cord­ing to cor­re­spon­dence ob­tained from NPDC through the Of­fi­cial In­for­ma­tion Act. NPDC said it had doc­u­ments from 1977 and 1978 show­ing the pow­er­lines had been moved, at Tech­nix’s ex­pense, to their cur­rent lo­ca­tion.

Un­der the new agree­ment the New Zealand Trans­port Agency (NZTA) will move light posts from their cur­rent lo­ca­tion on Tech­nix’s land across to the other side of the high­way.

They will be bright enough to light the area of the foot­path.

NPDC would com­pen­sate Matthews for ease­ment onto his prop­erty but would not dis­close how much that would be and said com­pen­sa­tion is based on ‘‘mar­ket val­u­a­tion of the land’’.

The pro­posed ease­ment ar­eas were es­ti­mated in March to be 63 square-me­tres at 701 Devon Rd and 183sqm at 2 Vick­ers Rd.

The first is 21,770sqm of land with the land por­tion val­ued at $1.84 million - or $84.52/sqm.

The lat­ter to­tals 17,358sqm of land with the land por­tion val­ued at $1.06m - or $61.06/sqm.

Matthews came un­der fire two years ago af­ter he pledged $331,000 to de­velop a ‘‘grand plaza’’ out­side the mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar Len Lye Cen­tre.

For­mer by-elec­tion can­di­date Peter Barker ini­ti­ated a pe­ti­tion at the time chal­leng­ing Matthews to in­stead sup­port the foot­path, which would al­low el­derly scooter rid­ers to safely ac­cess the city’s big­gest shop­ping area.

Maida Vale Re­tire­ment Vil­lage res­i­dent Alis­ter Im­rie backed the pe­ti­tion, say­ing the safety of a foot­path would also skim down travel down.

He claimed it took an hour to get to the Val­ley re­tail space via the Coastal Walk­way but a path ex­ten­sion would cut travel time to about 20 min­utes.

But ear­lier this year, the plaza plans were scrapped as costs were ex­pected to reach $1.7m and Matthews re­fused to fund a scaled down ver­sion that sat within the NPDC’s bud­get.

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