Gerry Brownlee threatens to halt government funding for central Christchurch roading projects
Gerry Brownlee has waded into Christchurch's inner city roading row, threatening to cut funding if the plan isn't changed.
The multimillion-dollar An Accessible City project aims to create a "compact, people-friendly" central city, but the new cycleways, reduced parking, a 30kmh zone, narrowing of streets and project delays have caused controversy and led to a threat of legal action.
Cabinet this week authorised Brownlee, the Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister, to suspend government funding of projects being led by the city council and Crown company Otakaro.
It comes as the two parties agreed to fast-track projects to minimise the disruption to businesses and property owners, and to review aspects of the work already done on St Asaph St.
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Brownlee said the council and Otakaro needed to "work together to tweak and refine" the plan, which he had been "encouraging for some time".
"I've been particularly concerned about certain aspects of the plan, including St Asaph St, Durham St, the area around Victoria Square and Victoria St," Brownlee said.
Otakaro is responsible for delivering three roading and transport projects in phase one of the plan, including the Avon-Otakaro Precinct, Manchester St, and Hospital Corner.
These projects are budgeted to cost the Government $50 million.
The plan was originally conceived by the now-defunct Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera). The council is responsible for making any changes.
Brownlee previously slammed the plan, saying the development of a pedestrian city would lead to a "pedestrian economy".
He did not believe enough on-street parking was included.
"And while I commend the move towards a more cycle-friendly and walkable city, a balance needs to be struck and it should not be to the detriment of the city as a whole."
Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said Brownlee had made her aware of his views but his actions had not exerted any influence over the council's decisions.
"We need to have another look at St Asaph St. That's become crystal clear. And that's not because [Brownlee] thinks that. I think that, and a number of businesses think that."
She said Brownlee was raising the issue to direct attention away from the issue of former Cera staff being investigated for alleged conflicts of interest.
"Waving another issue that focuses the attention on other things is certainly something that you would expect."
Dalziel said she did not want the council to create a regeneration plan for central city roading under the Greater Christchurch Regeneration Act if the design issues could be resolved in other ways.
"If we need to review elements of the plan... then we can do that. And the message that we get from Otakaro is that they will comply with that," she said.
"I don't think that anyone should be afraid of revisiting a plan if it presents challenges that weren't anticipated."
Dalziel said the Government funded Otakaro's projects, but could not cut off the council's funding or NZTA funding for An Accessible City.
Council strategy and transformation general manager Brendan Anstiss said the council and Otakaro were "committed to working with property and business owners to make sure they are genuinely included in the process".
The council would review elements of St Asaph St, including on-street parking, lane widths, and the speed limit, he said.
"We will do this as quickly as we can and build in any improvements to future designs. We will meet with business and property owners within two weeks to progress this work."
An Otakaro spokesman said the company had identified opportunities to accelerate its projects.
He said accelerating the projects would mean more intense construction activity, affecting road users and nearby businesses.
Brownlee said he welcomed the anticipated changes to St Asaph St.