Residents ignored

19:36, Feb 21 2013
Debbie Richards outside her Rotherham St home.

A determined group of Rotherham St residents are hoping the city council will "see reason" regarding further extensions and alterations to Westfield Riccarton, which is already casting a shadow over their lives.

Bruce Fraser lives on the corner of Dilworth St and Rotherham St. When he moved in over 10 years ago, his house got all-day sun, he could stroll to the mall, and getting out of his driveway was never an issue.

Extension after extension to Westfield Riccarton has seen his house cast in shadow and made parking impossible.

"I take my life in my hands every time I cross the road outside my house. It's dangerous, " he said.

Riccarton mall has expanded several times in the last 10 years. Larger parking structures, sky- bridges, and cinema extensions all happened without consultation with residents.

Over time, traffic in the area has increased, sunlight has been blocked, and street parking has become more and more of an issue.

Council resource consents manager John Higgins said the site was zoned Business 2, which allowed for a suburban mall.

"Essentially why the previous consents have been granted on a non-notified basis is that the site provides for what is proposed, " he said.

"Decisions on those applications have been made by independent planning commissioners."

Debbie Richards has led the residents' campaign to have mall consents notified.

"The resource consent documents say that the effect on residents - us - has been 'less than minor'. That's not true, the effects have been tremendous, " she said.

This time around, Westfield is applying to add a floor to its new parking structure on the corner of Clarence and Dilworth streets. It also wants to add floors within the structure.

There will also be a new, bigger access ramp built along Dilworth St.

Mrs Richards said the Rotherham St residents were not opposed to the mall and its expansion. They had moved into the area knowing it was there.

However, they did want the council to consult regarding extensions, in the hopes that resident feedback would solve issues they faced daily.

Mrs Richards said a particular problem was the increase in traffic, which most days was "chaotic".

"One elderly man who lives in this street has almost been knocked off his mobility scooter several times. "His wife is afraid for his safety.

"He has to drive on to the road on his scooter just to see past the parked cars. Crossing is almost impossible, " she said.

Mrs Richards said many problems could be solved by free staff parking. The mall charged $2 a day but many staff park on the streets.

She rang Westfield in Australia and the United States, and learnt staff parking was free there.

"I don't see why Riccarton can't do the same, " she said.

She wanted to speak to the council about a viable traffic management and pedestrian access plan, and blocked natural light.

"All we want is some input, some say in these changes."


Traffic at the Rotherham St and Dilworth St intersection

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