Tensions run high as anger over central Christchurch roading nears boiling point

Peter Townsend said a meeting earlier this week over road works was "emotional".
KIRK HARGREAVES?FAIRFAX NZ

Peter Townsend said a meeting earlier this week over road works was "emotional".

An "emotional" road works meeting of 100 Christchurch business owners grew fiery this week, amid claims constant alterations are driving away customers and hurting turnover. 

One central city owner says there was plenty of anger at Tuesday's forum and he had not been to a meeting like it for some time.

On Thursday businesses on Durham St and Manchester St took a swipe at constant road works in the city, saying they were costing them business and stunting growth.

This is the scene outside Stuart Winter's Laneway Espresso. He says he has lost all of his morning commuter business.
STACY SQUIRES/FAIRFAX NZ

This is the scene outside Stuart Winter's Laneway Espresso. He says he has lost all of his morning commuter business.

Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce (CECC) chief executive Peter Townsend said about 100 people turned up to a presentation on the Accessible City project.

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Three senior council managers presented on the effects of the road works on businesses, Townsend said.

Cafe Valentino owner Michael Turner: "It was angry right from the start . . . long time since I've been to a meeting ...
CARYS MONTEATH/FAIRFAX NZ

Cafe Valentino owner Michael Turner: "It was angry right from the start . . . long time since I've been to a meeting like that."

Issues raised included parking, layout and design of streets, traffic flows and the 30kmh restriction along some central streets.

There was "a lot of emotion" at the meeting.

"There is some businesses that have been seriously disadvantaged in the context of the regeneration of the city and there's some people that are very unhappy about the latest layout and design of the roading infrastructure," Townsend said.

The meeting was an opportunity for affected businesses to "make their concerns felt", he said.

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"We got assurances from council to say that where there were real issues, and things were obviously not working in the interests of the wider business community ongoing, then they would address them," Townsend said.

Cafe Valentino owner Michael Turner attended the meeting and said it was "pretty fiery" with "a lot of anger".

"It was angry right from the start.

"The council guy got up to speak and someone immediately calls out 'how did you get here, on your bike?'

"That was the tone of it," Turner said.

"[It's a] long time since I've been to a meeting like that."

Road works around the city were having a "terrible" affect on Turner's business.

"Constantly now customers are complaining that there is no car parking.

"It's just impossible. I'm getting customers on a daily basis saying to me that they tried to get to Cafe Valentino but they couldn't," Turner said.

His lunchtime trade was "well down".

"People have committed, I guess, a lot of money and in many cases their livelihoods," Turner said.

The Accessible City project is a programme of improvements to the central city travel network.

It plans to accommodate pedestrians and cyclists and implements slower speed zones in some areas.

It is being led by Christchurch City Council and Otakaro Limited.

Townsend said businesses directly affected by the work were most upset.

"There was a lot of concern from the business community, but the positive outcome was there was an acceptance on the part of the city council that where issues needed to be addressed they would address them."

Christchurch City Council Transport Operations manager Steffan Thomas said staff were asked to the meeting to discuss aspects of the development and delivery of the project, which was the transport chapter of the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan.

"CECC members heard from staff about the background to and principles of An Accessible City – and summarised the ongoing programmes of street works led by both Council and Otakaro Ltd that form the early phases of delivering the central city transport plan," he said.

A range of queries were raised including aspects of roading and streetscape changes, both implemented and planned, as well as provision for parking facilities across the city.

"It was agreed that it would be very useful to have a further meeting in 2017 to discuss the ongoing progress of those works – and in the meantime to consider how the Council and Otakaro Ltd could develop closer liaison arrangements with the CECC over future phases of works," Thomas said.

Council would look into any issues raised by businesses.

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 - Stuff

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