$200,000 footpath will link New Plymouth's Valley shopping centre and Bell Block
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.
* Negotiations on Waiwhakaiho footpath ongoing after 5 years
* Footpath delays anger Bell Block residents
* On behalf of the pohutukawa trees
* Lack of footpath an accident waiting to happen in Bell Block
* Aged scooters want safer journey to Valley
"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 pōhutukawa 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 time.
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.