It’s just been announced that consent has been approved for Skypath. I’ll have a closer look at the details shortly but for now it’s time to celebrate, this is a great day for Auckland. Well done to everyone involved and a huge thank you to Bevan Woodward and his team who have tireless campaigned and pushed this project forward. Without them today wouldn’t have been possible.

Skypath Consent - From Westhaven

Any bets on how long it will take for the Northcote residents who oppose to lodge and appeal of the decision in the environment court?

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    1. Also a north shore resident, very happy about this. Would love to see proper commuting style bike lanes from the shore to town. Sea Path and the Takapuna / Northcote route is a good start.

  1. I cant wait to quax to the Takapuna Markets, and ride with my son to visit his grandparents who live on the shore.

  2. Can’t say it enough, a huge “thank you, thank you, thank you” to Bevan Woodward and the Skypath Trust for all the hard work put in to date to get this far.

    Yes, we’re not there yet, got the appeals process to work through and then the NZTA and Auckland Council side as well.
    But just getting this far shows how much pent up demand there is now, and has been and without a doubt the demand will only increase even further now that the prospect is so tantalizingly close.

    What a fantastic day.

    1. Why don’t you save time, take the money you are going to spend on legal fees and just flush it down the toilet? Same thing really.

      Even better, give it to a charity so it can actually help improve the world rather than hold it back in a desperate attempt to arrest progress?

    2. Haha your probably right! These people just hate progress for some reason. I’m glad their style of thinking is now the minority and even becoming comical.

      1. It means he’s pissed off.

        He obviously expected it to go completely the other way and can see that he’ll now have to spend a lot more time and money with his lawyers than he budgeted for trying to overturn the decision.

        Because all the of the false arguments Phil had said would see Skypath fail at the every hurdle – that arguments that were supposed to be the “impenetrable armour” that the NRA we certain they had, turned out to be nothing but worthless tin in the face of the cold onslaught of logic.

        So its either the appeal court or sell his house for a even handsomer profit than he could have before Skypath was approved 🙂

        1. There was a surprising absence of lawyers on the side of the people opposing this. I think the only ones I know of who were in evidence were those for the The Wharf function centre in Northcote Point.

  3. Someone should of suggested Skypath be built as a truck only highway. That would of got the Northcote Nimby Association to support the bike way.

  4. Every time I drive over the bridge I think wow what a great view! Will be nice to be able to stop and enjoy it.

  5. Should AT have refused to give $21m to NZTA for trams that aren’t suitable to go to the airport and instead used it for this? $6/ return trip will certainly make me think twice about using it when I have a company car that can get me to the other side for free, as much as I would like to use it. $6 buys me many weeks of transport levy on my rates!

    1. I believe it’s $4 return with a HOP card. Also, biking to work over skypath will be awesome, and sitting in a car in queues of traffic sucks. But, yes I agree it should be free.

  6. Great news! I certainly hope they will however mark out proper cycle lanes and separate pedestrian zones rather than the useless “Shared Space” which just pisses everyone off by forcing cyclists to go slowly and avoid pedestrians and risks injury to pedestrians.

    1. The applicant has explained during the hearing why that won’t be doable (basically, the structural constraints mean the path can’t be wider than 4m, and that’s not wide enough to really separate bikes and peds).

      It has worked (sharing) on the Golden Gate for 60+ years. If it works at least adequately here, we can come back in 5-10 years and put a separate path for cyclists on the other side.

      1. 1.4m x2 for cycling, 1.2m for pedestrians. 5m width would have been better but that would still work better than shared space.

        As for the Golden Gate Bridge that is on the flat so isn’t as difficult to stop compared to the AHB which is steeper making it hard to stop and hard to start again after stopping if going uphill.

        1. Read the transport report that comes with the application. Explained in detail why 4m works okay as shared, but not split.

  7. the path should have extended to the north to connect into Seapath rather than spiralling into Northcote point. Cant help but feel that they have missed a trick and ended up with a sub-standard design outcome. it should have been a commuter route from Taka to the city with a connection point to nortchcote using the existing connection.

    1. In a perfect world yes, I agree but keeping it on eastern side of bridge goes over the air space of three houses (one of which is the NZTA bridge office). I understand this complication was one of the reasons the trust did not to pursue this option. If NZTA had have been running the show, these properties could have been acquired under PWA process.

      1. one of the houses was a NZTA office???? you are kidding. this is one of the reasons that the alignment was changed????

        half a job when it should have been done properly

        1. Number 9 (the last house of the right heading over the harbour bridge) forms the NZTA bridge support/maintenance office.
          As such its yard adjacent the bridge abutment will be used for routing Seapath along if/when that is consented.

          The “in the air” link to Seapath from Skypath requires infringing private property air rights of houses than Number 9, and you can guess the residents won’t like that one bit hence why it was a non starter.

          In time it may be able to added to the Skypath, but lets get whats consented built and open and add the frilly bits later.

    2. Yes, the best way to make sure that a project that needs private funding to be built (despite being a much needed walk/cycleway for our city) – the best way to make it happen is to add some other major structures onto it, increase the cost to double, make it even more complicated to get consent for in one hit…

      Bit like the Wright Brothers saying “well, our first plane should really carry at least 10 people, or what use will it be – it’s not like we can extend the bloody thing later!”

      Sorry for the sarcasm – but believe me, the “why didn’t they?” question normally has very logical answers.

      1. If we took that track, the project would of actually had some major effects and the decision would of gone the other way, could of taken even more years to be able to cycle over the harbour.

    1. From FAQ’s on http://www.skypath.org.nz: [The] aim is to have SkyPath open and operational in summer 2015/16.

      However some delays might be experienced with many things including appeals and court cases that might be thrown by the Nimby Residents Association.

      1. Thanks. awesome. Can’t believe it will be built so quickly. Fingers crossed no more legal hurdles

  8. Great to see dynamic, innovative people win out over the grey old self-entitled men in the NIMBY associations – who don’t even represent the majority of residents.

    Such a great day for Auckland and the future.

    1. if you only look at it from a narrow perspective of getting a cycle facility over the bridge then this is a a great outcome. But if you look at the bigger picture they could have done better.

      1. Hal,

        Who could have done better? Bevan and his team? They have gone well above and beyond what anyone can expect of private citizens. If you want it better, go make it happen yourself.

        If you are talking about NZTA, well they havent actually done that much at all.

  9. Great news – this will be a game-changer, particularly for Shore residents. And the linkages are firming up too. The shared path along Onewa Rd is nearly complete, the Northcote Safe Cycle Route is approved and should be in place in 2017, and NZTA’s SeaPath initiative along the coast to Esmonde Rd can now get some traction.

    Looking forward to pedalling over without being constrained by ferry timetables and wharf closures. Bring it on!

  10. Kevin Clarke, of the Northcote Residents Association, said on Friday: “We will challenge it at the environment court. There’s no remote question about that.”

    So, at least another few months of delays and costs.

    I hate these people.

      1. There’s provisions in the RMA such that the NRA could end up paying all the costs of everyone involved. A rational residents society would actually sit down read the consent and consider the significant financial costs they may incur by taking this to the Environment Court. These provisions were presumably bought in to discourage groundless appeals from bitter NIMBYs wasting the courts time.

    1. Point to note – appeals are taken only on points of law not the fact that you don’t like the decision made.

      So they have to argue the case as to why the commissioners got the law so wrong to allow Skypath. very legalistic, expensive and time consuming.

      I think the recent POAL decision re Bundling of consents and using the least complying activity to govern the process will be a very relevant guide to the appeal court in determining the result of the appeal.

      NRA and co may also find they’re asked to provide surety of the applicants appeal costs should the appellants (e.g. NRA et al) lose the appeal – before their appeal is able to proceed to trial.

      So hope the society has got some deep pockets to stump up that sort of money up front to the court in case they lose and thats on top of the legal costs they incur in appealing.

      Likely course of action:

      Appeal > initial filings and legal arguments > pre-trial Mediation > Mediation fails > Further document filings and evidence > Trial before Judge > Judge reserves decision > Judge produces summary of trial facts & asks for second round of Mediation > Mediation fails > Judge rules on outcome of appeal

      Each step there could add months to the process. If the mediation works, then it could short circuit this process.
      Still can’t see NRA or Northcote points residents accepting any decision to allow Skypath as valid.

      And if NRA and co have deep enough pockets then off to the Supreme Court for a further round of argy bargy?

      So Yeah could be a long time before you can cycle or walk the bridge if they get the appeal accepted.

      Meanwhile they’ll collectively piss away millions of dollars of time and their money protecting the value of “their” streets from the invading hoardes.
      And once they lose they could find an even bigger bill than they envisaged.

      1. There have been some dodgy societies set up such as the “North Point Heritage Protection Society” and I suspect this will be the appeal vehicle, not the NRA. Of course will have no assets and will disappear when award of costs is made.

        1. Indeed Luke.. this is not a trivial concern.

          In 2010 the “New Zealand Climate Science Coalition” (climate change deniers funded by the Heartland Institute) set up a body called the “New Zealand Climate Science Education Trust” which took NIWA to court ostensibly over the validity and accuracy of a historical series of temperature measurements.. but actually to mount a crusade against NZ’s leading climate scientist Dr Jim Salinger and waste their time and (our) money.

          When the NZCSET duly lost in court (twice.. on appeal they were found to have had no prospect of success and to have acted unreasonably) they declared they were unable to pay the costs. The taxpayer remains out of pocket by $ 100 k or so in terms of unrecovered court costs.. perhaps $ 500 k including costs incurred by NIWA. The report from the official liquidator noted that the NZCSET was formed with the express intention of bringing the court action and as a cover to protect the litigants (Brian Leyland, Barry Brill et al) from the financial consequences of failure, raising serious questions about the way that the case was funded. In fact the NZCSET did nothing except bring an action against NIWA.

          http://hot-topic.co.nz/brills-bills-still-unpaid-but-barrys-off-to-vegas/
          http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/9600968/Failed-doubters-trust-leaves-taxpayers-at-loss

          1. The judge should have required them to have a bond to cover those costs should they lose the case.

      2. Correction needed. Appeals to the Environment Court are allowed on ‘de novo’ basis, so all evidence is considered again. Judicial review on points of law to challenge non-notification is totally separate thing (e.g. Ports of Auckland) and must be conducted in the High Court.

        Regarding costs, residents associations can set up incorporated societies as a mechanism to reduce court costs if case goes against them.

        1. “Sometimes, the Environment Court may be asked by the respondent to an appeal to make an order securing costs before allowing an appeal to be heard. This may be requested if it’s suspected that the person bringing the appeal may not have sufficient financial resources to pay costs should their appeal be unsuccessful.” Mfe

        2. I’d expect if the appellants want a “de novo” appeal, they’ll have to rightly secure a deposit to pay for the full costs of the other parties should they lose, as going through all the evidence will be a mammoth task and would be quite right for the other parties to seek surety in likely high costs from what is basically an Incorporated society with limited assets.

          And in any Environment appeal process, parties who were originally submitters to the original application can seek to join the appeal (for either party), so while the appellant might be able to get some “big guns” on their side, they may also find some even bigger guns are on the other side when they get down to it.

          As for judicial review of the POAL consent, now the appeals for that are not going ahead by either party (POAL or AC), the decisions made by the Judge about the consent application will become another case law precedent and means that his finding about the bundling of consent applications together is important and the need to apply for consent on the bundle using the most restricted activity will be even more important. And thus is now ignored by applicants at their peril.

          And this is what POAL failed to appreciate and thus lost their consent application. The justice specifically called out POAL on their Slice and Dice approach to consenting and cited other cases where this was also inappropriate as it was deemed to be there.

          The issue about non-notification of the POAL application(s) is a separate one, directly relating to how Auckland Council incorrectly treated the application by POAL as not needing notification. Which as the Justice also found, was unlawful.

          Of course, the NRA and co could decline to appeal this round, but then seek injunctions to delay and slow the construction consents, and also to close Skypath once Skypath is built/open for every infraction. However this would probably not be seen that kindly by the courts.

          While I’d hope common sense would prevail here, where money is concerned, it seldom is. And only lawyers profit from the result.

          1. Yes if the Nimby Associations are as obstinate as I believe they to be, undoubtedly they will appeal an unfavourable EC decision for them to the HC on points of law. This reminds me of NZTA’s judicial review of EPA decision vis a vis Basin Flyover. On the extreme end, they might seek court declarations to stop construction on the basis it doesn’t comply with the construction noise or safety conditions for example.

  11. Just read the decision in its entirety, it was a *very nice* surprise to see parts of my verbal evidence that I gave at the hearing mentioned at 3 different points in the commissioners decision document. So I know they did listen to the little guys as well as the legal beagles.

    All up a complex job, well done by the commissioners.

    Since I’ve never been “mentioned in despatches” like this before, I think I’ll need a lie down now to recover…

  12. If anyone wants to come celebrate, there’s a contingent of bikes and pedestrians heading to the Northcote Tavern after work today. Thought it would be nice to show support for the local businesses – check out cycle action in fb for details.

    1. Hopefully might bring the owner around as well.

      He was one opposing the Northcote Safe Routes and Skypath because then his locals wouldn’t have parking – at a pub – where they drink alcohol – they need lots of parking.

      Such a huge opportunity for the guy and I predict in 5 years it will be the most cycle friendly pub in Auckland.

  13. yes! yes! yes! congratulations to Bevan and the team

    now, who else lives in Northcote so we can arrange a hostile takeover of the Northcote Nimby Association?

  14. Congratulations to NZTA and AT who came along to fully fund this! Oh wait…I was just day dreaming about a world where they work for the people who pay the taxes.

    Felicitations to all the people who have worked long and hard for this. I’ll make sure I walk up there at least once in my life. Of course I will drive there and park in of one those Northcote streets.

  15. In these dark days, will no one think of poor Jo Holmes, probably sitting in her basement now, waiting for Sudvir’s hitler youth to come and force her to wear lycra, like Barbara Cuthbert does in all her media appearances?
    http://www.joholmes.com/blog/skypath-to-cloud-cuckoo-land

    Also, in a less scary vein, I had a re-watch of this excellent parody video our beloved North Shore Councillor George Wood put together last year. Watch how he sneakily hints at all the reasons SkyPath could work after all (like talking about the lack of off-street parking, and then cutting to a guy coming out of his driveway, next to his neighbour’s car port. Genius!):

      1. That video is a joke right? You really just have to feel sorry for these people they really have no idea how pathetic it is!

  16. I’m sorry George, I know your generation doesn’t want any change but you need to allow the younger generations to have a bit of say in the developments now. Your time is passing.

  17. awesome !!!!the amount of times I had to ride the western route (great ride !) but sometimes I just want to get home. Thank you Bevan

  18. What an old moaner! If Skypath goes ahead, the world as we know it will come to an end. I didn’t know George could talk to cats. ‘This guy’s been here for many years, he doesn’t want any change’. I don’t think the cat gives a stuff, George. The poplars aren’t going to be cut down, are they? And then he bags the ferry. How do people get by each day in our country? Love the music at the end! Roll on, Skypath.

  19. Woo hoo, common sense, think how many cars will be left at home. Love it. Now my son can walk home in the early hours of Saturday morning after having missed the ferry, instead of calling me.

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