A pre-hearing meeting about the Westchester Drive extension was held on Wednesday 29 April 2009 at the Churton Park School Hall. The meeting report below was been made available by Mr Alistair Aburn, pre-hearing meeting facilitator.
Report on a Pre-Hearing Meeting Held on Wednesday 29 April 2009
at the Churton Park School Hall, Churton Park
Wellington City Council Application to Construct Westchester Drive Extension
A total of 23 submitters attended. Present were:
Zena Kavas (Glenside Streamcare Group)
Claire Bibby (Glenside Progressive Association Inc)
John Morrison (Churton Park Community Association Inc)
Ling Phang (Greater Wellington Regional Council - as a submitter)
Also in attendance were several officers from both the Wellington City Council (WCC) and the Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC), including Mr Stephen Harte, Manager Roading infrastructure, representing the WCC as the requiring authority (‘applicant’) for the amendments to the existing designation. Several consultant advisors to Mr Harte also attended.
Apologies were recorded from Guy Beatson, Deborah Bell, David Eggers and Ferdinand Gomez.
The meeting commenced at 7.30pm and concluded at 9.30pm.
Following introductions by the Meeting Facilitator (Alistair Aburn), Andy Christofferson (WCC) and Jeremy Rusbatch (GWRC) outlined the roles of the respective Councils, noting that:
(a) WCC has two separate roles firstly as the requiring authority (‘applicant’), and secondly as the regulatory authority in relation to the requested amendment to the designation; and
(b) GWRC is responsible for the necessary regional resource consents.
It was confirmed that the hearing panel would consist of two GWRC appointed commissioners and one WCC appointed independent commissioner who would make a decision on the regional resource consents, and also make a recommendation to the WCC as the requiring authority on the proposed amendments to the designation.
It was also confirmed that the WCC’s acceptance (or rejection) of the hearing commissioners’ decision on the amendments to the designation could be appealed to the Environment Court.
2. Issues Relating to Designation
Mr Lindsay Daysh (GHD Consultants) on behalf of Mr Harte outlined the process leading to the designation for the Westchester Drive Extension currently in the Wellington City District Plan (Designation 134). Mr Daysh confirmed that the WCC is seeking an amendment to the existing designation, not requesting a new designation.
On behalf of the Glenside Progressive Association Mrs Claire Bibby advised that the Association was not convinced that the designation was confirmed in the operative District Plan and that the Association would be addressing this point at the hearing.
The meeting requested that the WCC Officer’s s.42A Report include a section covering the history of the designation. Mr Christofferson agreed to this request.
3. Issues Identified
The following issues were identified and recorded on the whiteboard:
Lighting from traffic (headlight glare)
Street lighting effects
Pedestrian access routes
Stebbings Valley access
Ecology and impact on stream
Wildlife habitat and ecosystems
Land available for mitigation
The discussion from approximately 8.00pm to 9.30pm focused on these and related issues. Initially the discussion centered on the purpose of the proposed Westchester Drive Extension. During the discussion it was apparent that there is a ‘difference of opinion’ on a number of issues, including the need or otherwise for the extension; and, if the extension was to occur, the appropriate alignment.
A number of submitters were strongly of the opinion that the proposed designation had been proposed for a period of time and that it was important to proceed now and enhance accessibility to/from Churton Park and relieve existing traffic volumes, particularly in Halswater Drive.
The contribution of the new link to the accessibility and viability of the proposed Churton Park shopping centre was also mentioned by a number of submitters.
Other submitters considered that the proposed roading extension would have unacceptable effects on either their individual property or on the Glenside Road area generally.
Questions were asked as to whether the WCC was confident that the road extension, including the bridge, could be built within the land covered by the designation as now proposed. Issues of cost and cost/benefit were raised with a concern that the proposed construction works could go over budget.
Mr Harte confirmed that the construction period would be in the order of 18 months, with the necessary earthworks taking approximately half of that time. Tendering was expected to occur in 2010/2011, subject to the necessary RMA approvals being in place.
Mr Harte confirmed that a detailed construction management plan would be prepared once a contractor was appointed.
4. Issues in Agreement
There were no issues where full agreement was reached between the submitters, with the exception of an agreement that the WCC should produce more detailed drawings of the proposed intersection layout at both ends of the proposed extension.
5. Issues Remaining Outstanding
Accessibility and Traffic
The principal issue discussed, and one which remains outstanding and will be the subject of submissions (both supporting and opposing) at the hearing, is the issue of accessibility to/from Churton Park (and Stebbings Valley), traffic flows on the existing road network, including Halswater Drive, and existing concerns around traffic safety.
On the one hand submitters supporting the proposed extension highlighted the importance of enhanced accessibility and the need to urgently address traffic safety issues, with one submitter saying that “It has reached the point where this cannot go on”. One the other hand, and while
expressing concern at the existing traffic situation, other submitters considered that the roading extension would only shift the problem from one place to another and would have unacceptable impacts on some immediately adjacent properties and the Glenside Road area generally.
Some submitters question whether the road extension in the location proposed is the only solution available.
Specific concerns were raised concerning the existing corner of Westchester Drive and Lakewood Avenue and the need for more detail and clarity around the proposed new intersection.
Other issues discussed were:
Submitters expressed concern about potential effects and requested further detail/clarification.
Mr Harte advised that lighting had not been considered as a potential issue as street lights would be screened so as not to affect neighbouring residents.
Concerns relating to both construction-related noise and noise associated with traffic using the extension were raised. Mr Harte explained that the base position for addressing noise was the existence (ie the District Plan’s expectation) of a road along the proposed alignment rather than the existing undeveloped land.
In relation to the road surface, submitters expressed concern at the different noise levels associated with different road surfaces (asphalt or chip seal) and requested that Council accept that the proposed surfacing (asphalt) should not change in the future.
Concerns were expressed that the proposed cuts would not be sufficiently mitigated by the proposed landscaping and that more detail was required. A suggestion was made that punga logs could be used to screen the proposed cuts as this would, in turn, assist re-vegetation of the batter slopes.
The Glenside Progressive Association Inc advised that it would be bringing evidence addressing ecology to the hearing.
As part of the closure of the pre-hearing meeting the process leading up to the hearing was outlined, including the circulation of the Officer’s s.42A Reports in advance of the hearing, which was scheduled to commence on Monday 25 May 2009.
The meeting closed at 9.30pm with thanks to all attendees for the frank and open way that issues had been discussed. It was agreed that the meeting had been an ‘open’ discussion and that there were no comments made on a ‘without prejudice basis’.
Several submitters confirmed that they would be presenting evidence at the hearing addressing issues raised at the pre-hearing meeting.
Pre-Hearing Meeting Facilitator
12 May 2009