Residents ready to block evictions for expressway

MICHAEL FORBES
Last updated 05:00 01/07/2013
Kapiti homeowner
DIEGO OPATOWSKI/ Fairfax NZ

IN LIMBO: Murray Livingstone, owner of Livingstone Gardens, says NZTA’s expressway means he is losing his home and business.

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Elderly Kapiti residents say they will act as bodyguards for anyone who might be removed from their homes by developers of the Kapiti expressway.

A group of octogenarians plan to form a blockade this morning around Livingstone Garden Centre in Poplar Ave, which is one of 81 properties in the path of the 16-kilometre, four-lane link from McKays Crossing to Peka Peka.

Between 20 and 100 protesters are expected to turn up.

But the NZ Transport Agency says no-one will be removed from their homes today. The agency has put off starting the $630 million project until an appeal against its resource consents by environmental lobby group Save Kapiti has made it through the High Court.

Save Kapiti spokeswoman Bianca Begovich said the garden centre was chosen because owner Murray Livingstone was under the impression his deadline to vacate was today.

But the protesters were also committed to return at any point if people were being forced out of their homes, she said.

Mr Livingstone, 59, said he received the latest Crown valuation for his property last week and wrote to the transport agency, as well as Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee straight away, asking for at least two more months to consider the offer.

He had not heard back from either yesterday, raising fears he might be removed from his home today, he said.

Rod James, the transport agency's Wellington state highways manager, said Save Kapiti and Mr Livingstone had probably confused the agency's "notice of intent" to build the road with an eviction notice.

The notices mentioned that a July start date was pencilled in for the expressway, but they were sent out before Save Kapiti lodged its resource consent appeal with the High Court, which delayed confirmation of that.

"The NZTA will be waiting until the outcomes of this month's High Court appeals are known before setting a construction start date.

This date, and the location of the early stages of construction, will be set to ensure only land that NZTA already owns is affected."

No-one would have to leave their house until the transport agency had bought it, he said.

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- The Dominion Post

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