In a month the resource consent hearings for Skypath begin and while we don’t know what the outcome will be, the project had a big boost this week from the release of the council’s RMA report into the application. The project received massive feedback from the public – both directly and through the submission form from Generation Zero. All up over 11,500 submissions were received of which only 159 were opposed and 5 neutral. Many of those opposing the proposal have tried to make it appear that all of Northcote Point was opposed to the project however the map below shows most did not even bother to submit.
Of course in consent hearings the total number of submissions is less important than the content of those submissions and the impact the project has. The council’s planners have considered analysis of the proposal from a number of experts and most importantly, overall they have concluded that the project should be granted consent. Here’s their executive summary.
The report also delves deeper into the key issues including covering the key points of complaint from local residents such as the visual impact and parking. Below are a few points I’ve taken out of the report.
The council and its experts believe that Skypath will not be a negative and that it will actually improve visual, aesthetic amenity which will have positive social effects on the community.
On the landing, the design for Northcote has changed slightly and it now appears that it will take up less space – further reducing any impact on neighbouring properties. It is now more of a bean shape rather than an oval like previously suggested. The mitigation measures for Northcote are below (click to enlarge)
Parking has always been another hot button topic. Residents have long claimed they will be swamped by cars as a result of Skypath despite being reminded again and again that it is possible to manage parking through measures like residential parking schemes – one such scheme already exists just across the water at St Mary’s Bay. I also like this comment from the planner and it’s something we should really see more of
The biggest issue for most supporters will likely continue to be the toll and the opening hours. The toll could make the Harbour bridge probably the first in the world not only to toll cyclists to cross but to do so while allowing cars to cross for free. Unless the Council or Government (more likely) step in and agree to take over the project a toll is the only way the private investors could pay for the construction. As for the operating hours, they are suggested to be limited to between the hours of 6am and 10pm for noise and security reasons. That seems a bit too narrow to me and Imagine if we operated our roads like that. Over 3,000 people mentioned the opening hours in their submissions saying they should be extended with only one person wanting the hours reduced.
Lastly this map highlights the walking and cycling connections on both sides of the harbour that already exist or are planned.