Road safety battle costs millions

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 11:54 10/04/2014
Colin Stokes
Stacy Squires/Fairfax NZ
HIS VIEW: Colin Stokes addresses the Christchurch City Council in 2012 about roading concerns.

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Developers of a Yaldhurst subdivision say years of wrangling over the safety of their roading network has cost them millions of dollars

For four years Yaldhurst resident Colin Stokes has been arguing the spine road into the Noble subdivision is dangerously narrow and that it was built with disregard to accepted roading standards.

He has repeatedly alleged that council staff erred in allowing the road to be built and have since conspired to cover up their mistake.

His claims about the spine road have been partly backed up by an independent safety audit, conducted by Dr Shane Turner at the council's request, which did identify a number of "serious" and "significant" safety concerns with the roading network.

This morning councillors decided the roads in the subdivision would only be vested in the council once those safety concerns had been addressed and the developers had obtained a variation to their original resource consent.

Justin Prain, speaking on behalf of the developers, told councillors the allegations of collusion and manipulation, unsafe roads and dangerous intersections had led to significant delays to the subdivision and had cost the developers millions.

He said none of the serious assertions Stokes had made over the years had proven to be true and council staff had always acted with the utmost professionalism.

But Cr Raf Manji said it was clear from reading the audit reports that mistakes had been made in the initial design of the road: "It seems to me we have approved a road which is completely unsuitable for anyone to cycle on in a safe manner.''

Cr Yani Johanson also said it was evident the roads did pose safety risks and extensive work needed to be done to bring them up to the required standard.

"The key thing for us as a council is to make it safe,'' said Johanson. "I also think we need a report into how this was able to happen . . . and how we are ensuring it won't happen again.''

Deputy mayor Vicki Buck said the debate over the safety of the roads in the Noble subdivision had taken up an inordinate amount of Riccarton-Wigram Community Board's time and she never wanted to go through such a process again.

"There may well be some learnings from this,'' she said.

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