Expressway threatens GP clinic

Thousands of Kapiti general practice patients may be left in limbo as a practice warns a planned expressway would make it unable to function.

Dr Chris Fawcett of the Paraparaumu Medical Centre on Kapiti Rd - with about 5000 patients - said tasks as simple as listening to a stethoscope would become ''impossible''.

Dr Fawcett was speaking yesterday at the Board of Inquiry deciding the resource consent applications for the $630 million MacKays Crossing to Peka Peka section of the Kapiti expressway.

He said consultations would be made impossible by construction noise reaching 80 decibels, equivalent to a sink garbage disposal.

Vibration would prevent the use of delicate equipment such as heart monitoring ECG machines, he said.

''I'm unsure, but it may even pose a risk to minor surgery or procedures that require a steady hand and a good working environment.''

Even after construction finishes, the practice will face increased traffic volume on the road and two extra lanes outside the premises.

An interchange off-ramp from the expressway would exit right beside the practice, he said.

Dr Fawcett said the practice and the NZ Transport Agency were in discussions about relocation - either temporarily or permanently.

''As you're probably aware, land in Kapiti is reasonably difficult to find, but we are looking hard for what the alternatives could be.''

Dr Fawcett said the practice would ideally like land in the same area.

''We're exploring options with the NZTA, but we haven't reached a conclusion...[but] the logistics of shifting out, and back again, don't seem to make very much sense.''

Yesterday's hearing kicked off with a submission by New Zealand Contractors' Federation central regional manager Giles Sullivan.

Mr Sullivan said the federation, representing 600 member companies, fully supported the expressway on the basis of an overall economic benefit.

''We believe these encompass the improved and more predictable journey times. They encompass improved road safety levels, and also the positive environmental impacts with reduction of pollution due to improved fuel consumption rates.''

Mr Sullivan said the federation would ''contest'' any accusation that its submission was financially self-interested.

''The MacKays to Peka Peka project is not an additional expenditure ... but rather a reallocation of funding that would otherwise be available for other projects.''

On that basis the industry position is ''revenue neutral'', so its opinions were robust and unbiased, he said.

Meanwhile, there appears to be good news for previous submitter Jane Leonard-Taylor.

As reported Mrs Leonard-Taylor said she was trapped in her Waikanae home after the expressway announcement saw her property value plunge.

She had planned to sell up and move to a retirement home with her husband suffering from heart failure.

Agency project manager Craig Nicholson said he would meet her to discuss the purchase of her property under a national hardship scheme.

He said there was a reasonable case for the purchase of the property if that was what she wanted.

Kapiti Observer