Fears of highway up Brook revealed

BILL MOORE
Last updated 12:58 10/04/2014

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The Brook Valley's new community group is suggesting that a secret agenda to build a motorway extension from Stoke to the city could be behind the Nelson City Council's proposal to shut the Brook Valley Holiday Park.

But Mayor Rachel Reese says it's a "fanciful" idea, though a scheme change last year does include an "indicative road".

The group, formed late last year, has leafleted Brook St residents to publicise a forthcoming meeting, urge them to make submissions to the council's annual plan, and seek donations.

The leaflet, over the name of chairman Christopher St Johanser, secretary Sue Harris and committee members, says that the group's worst-case theory fits the available facts.

This is that there is a hidden plan to extend Whakatu Drive from Enner Glynn to the head of the Brook Valley, flanked by low-density, high-cost housing across the watershed.

"Concrete over the Brook itself for an elevated highway, truck and trailer units all night and all day, out round by Founders and off to the north, or double back to the port."

The motor camp would be in the way and have to go, the leaflet says.

With "a billion tonnes of logs to be shipped" such a plan would provide a new ring road for the city, a new highway of national importance and a novel solution to the "Rocks Rd-Victory debacle".

It says that the release of a feasibility study for a gondola from the head of the Brook, to which the council gave $15,000, is three months overdue.

"This year, the council proposes to close the Brook motor camp. Are these events connected? Is there a ‘hidden agenda' and what might it be? How would you know?"

The group is taking "formal steps" to find out what is going on, the leaflet says.

"Perhaps our fantasies are the product of ‘conspiracy theorists', unwarrantably suspicious of benevolent intentions. What a relief that would be."

It says last year's "mysterious" plan change 17 to the Nelson Resource Management Plan, which rezones Enner Glynn and the upper Brook Valley and became operative on September 17, could be linked to a roading scheme.

St Johanser said a date for the meeting was yet to be set. The probability of a link road might be low, "but it is the increase in potential for such a development to which we wish to draw attention".

"I hope very much that there is no foundation whatever for such a scheme. But we are becoming used to a roll-out of projects which directly or indirectly impact upon the citizens' reserves.

"Perhaps we are nipping something in the bud. I would much rather be proved wrong than right, and I have no objection to looking like a fool."

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Shown the leaflet, Reese said she assumed it was a spoof.

There had been "absolutely no discussion at any point" about putting in a link road as a motorway extension. "There's absolutely no intention whatsoever of connecting those sorts of roads up in the foreseeable future. I have to say what's in that document is fanciful.

"From memory the indicative road link was an option to provide a convenient option for residents to get out of the Brook Valley should further development occur in that area. It is a bit landlocked up the Brook, so what you're trying to do is to make sure that you don't have long car journeys if there's a nice link across you can make."

The mayor said staff had informed her that the plan change included a walkway/cycleway to connect Enner Glynn and the Brook, plus through to Bishopdale via the ride above the city's landfill.

There was an indicative road shown from Brook to Bishopdale over the saddle at the quarry/landfill area. Such a road was where a plan provision was made to indicate where a road could go should development occur.

"It doesn't mean it is built at that time. We just don't want to lose the opportunity to do it in the future."

A similar indicative road had been provided for along the top of the Atawhai Hills since the mid-1990s. The southern link road from Whakatu Drive to St Vincent St remained her preferred option to improve the roading network.

- Nelson

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