Probe into subdivision's roads

03:07, Jul 26 2013
Noble subdivision
SAFETY FIRST: Jonty Roscoe, left, and Oliver Carter, both 6, enjoy the currently empty streets of the Noble subdivision in Yaldhurst.

The developers behind a Yaldhurst subdivision under scrutiny by the Christchurch City Council say they are the victims of a long-running campaign by a disgruntled landowner.

They deny any suggestions that the roads they built are unsafe or illegal.

City councillors yesterday voted to get an independent safety audit done of the Noble subdivision, off Yaldhurst Rd, amid allegations from resident Colin Stokes that the subdivision's roading network had been built with disregard to accepted roading standards and was potentially unsafe.

Councillors agreed to hire a barrister to carry out a more broad-ranging investigation in the processes used to approve the subdivision, in particular how the developers were allowed to build roads over privately owned land.

In a statement this afternoon, the developers, Noble Investments Ltd, who were not at Thursday's council meeting, denied any wrongdoing and accused the council of ''caving in'' to a campaign by Stokes, who they say is trying to extract $2.4 million from them for alleged contractual breaches arising from his purchase of land in stage 1 of their development.

''The process of approving this ... development was meticulously worked through with council staff and complies with all council regulations and requirements to the letter,'' they said.


All roads were designed to international best practice and had been reviewed by independent planners and traffic engineers, including the Traffic Design Group, Opus and ViaStrada.

An independent commissioner had reviewed the approvals for the subdivision and confirmed they were all processed correctly and complied with every regulatory requirement.

''It would appear, in the face of a dire shortage of houses within Christchurch following the earthquakes, and to the dismay of all those who have agreements to buy houses within the village, that the councillors prefer a 'business as usual' approach and are readily side-tracked into denying their own consent process in favour of supporting unsubstantiated allegations from individuals with alternative agendas,'' the developers said.

Stokes has repeatedly attacked the council for its actions in approving the subdivision and questioned why it allowed the developers to build roads that were dangerously narrow and below the legally required standards.

Addressing the council again yesterday, Stokes said that when the road widths in the subdivision were approved, it was done on the basis there would be 6000 vehicle movements a day.

But since then the developers had increased the size of the commercial area within the subdivision by 250 per cent. It was now anticipated there would be 11,000 vehicle movements a day.

That would compromise road safety even further, he said.

Riccarton-Wigram Community Board chairman Mike Mora told the council that his board had grave concerns about the roading network approved for the subdivision and wanted the council to engage an independent barrister to investigate how the developers were allowed to do what they had done.

It also wanted an independent safety audit of the roading network within the subdivision, including the intersection with Yaldhurst Rd.

"As a community board we are very, very reluctant to accept responsibility ... for this roading layout," said Mora, reiterating Stokes' point that the roading layout did not meet safety standards.

"This issue is not going to go away. This is your opportunity to show what you are worth. There are concerns, so please do something about it," he said.

Cr Aaron Keown pushed for the council to investigate the safety issues first, saying that if failings were found it could then order a further investigation into the process used to approve the subdivision.

"It's very clear there has been an issue for a long time. There's part of the community that is very upset and there are allegations that have been aimed at council. The best way to clear them up is to do an independent review," he said.

Riccarton-Wigram ward councillors Jimmy Chen and Helen Broughton argued strongly for a more broad-ranging investigation, saying the process for approving the subdivision appeared to have been flawed from the outset.

Cr Glenn Livingstone said he was convinced an investigation that looked beyond the immediate safety issues was warranted.

"It is time we ... threw some light on what has happened. There is more than sufficient evidence to proceed with both a safety audit and an independent review," he said.

Councillors voted unanimously to get a safety audit done. They voted 8-4 to engage an independent barrister to do a more broad-ranging inquiry.

Until that inquiry is completed, the roads within the Noble subdivision will not be formally vested with the council.

The Press