Private road plans may cut-off Hagley

RACHEL YOUNG
Last updated 05:00 19/06/2013

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Residents living near Hagley Park fear selling a strip of public land to a private Christchurch school will see one of their main access points to the park cut off.

Cathedral Grammar School has asked the Christchurch City Council to stop a section of Chester St West, which divides the school's site, being used as a road and then sell it to them.

The section, defined as a pedestrian mall, provides a link between Park Tce and Cranmer Square and is closed to vehicles on school days from 9.30am to 2pm.

However, residents fear selling it will further alienate the public from using the land.

Inner City West Neighbourhood Association chairwoman Therese Minehan was opposed: "Chester St West is public land and I don't see why it should go to another organisation, whether it's a church or a school."

She said it was a vital link between Cranmer Square and the Avon River for residents and must remain so at all times, not just outside of school hours.

Victoria St Neighbourhood Association's Dave Kelly said it would be a "dreadful mistake" to sell the land.

"Chester St is important for future greenway because Armagh [St] has tram tracks and Kilmore [St] is busy and built up. Chester is clearly the best link to the river."

The school's headmaster, Paul Kennedy, acknowledged some neighbours had a "fundamental opposition" to the sale, but believed they could reach an agreement by making a green connection between Cranmer Square and Park Tce that the public could access when the school was closed.

"It's not about us trying to do a land grab. It's about the safety of the children."

The school had "no difficulty" with the public using the street outside school hours, he said.

Cr Yani Johanson said the council staff recommendation to stop Chester St West being a road was at odds with the city trying to enhance it's walkability and accessibility.

"It's a pretty significant thing to be selling off prime public space to a private school," he said.

The proposal will be discussed at the Hagley/Ferrymead Community Board meeting today.

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