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Otago Regional Council missed the Bridge

Media Release
Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Attn: Local government, education, and feature Reporters

Otago Regional Council missed the Bridge

Submitters on the proposed Otago University vehicle bridge over the Leith today expressed disappointment that the Otago Regional Council had granted consent for the bridge to be built over the Leith.

"What the ORC has said, is that the University can build a bridge, no matter how daft, and we will approve it, even though it diminishes the amenity and heritage values of the area. The University is building a bridge for which there is no need, and which runs against the common sense of ninety-five percent of submitters, and sadly no one is willing to stop them." said submitter Mr Mark Baxter.

Submitters will be assessing their options, and will consider whether they should appeal the decision to the Environment Court.

"As a member of the Dunedin and University community, I've been involved in this debate for eight years now. I'm still waiting for a rational assessment of the need for a bridge, and the detrimental effects it will have on the area to come from anyone with the power to stop it. The University has been trapped in a mindset of needing to build this monstrosity ever since they raised money for a new entranceway in 1990, and they can't see that it's never been a good idea." said submitter Mr Kyle Matthews.

[A list of counter-arguments relating to the ORC decisions is attached]

Amenity

The ORC's Report assumes damage to amenity caused by traffic will not be increased because the area already has traffic on both sides and the University will control traffic with bollards. Both these views are flawed: the current traffic is low, but a bridge will bring new traffic into the area. The ORC have imposed a condition on the University of having to submit a Traffic Management Plan describing how bollards etc will be used. However as shown in the hearing University's traffic management practice and plans are inadequate.

Heritage

As admitted by the University in the hearing, the heritage values will be diminished. There seems to be little consideration in the Report's as to the proposal's historical wrongness.

Strong opposition from many submitters including heritage consultant and former Historic Places Trust employee, Lois Galer indicates that the Historic Places Trust may be offside with their community. The Historic Places Trust has had a difficult relationship with the university, who own many important historic structures (such as the installation of glass doors in the registry building), and this may have led to them feeling unable to stand up to the university on this matter.

Safety

The bridge will bring east-west traffic flow into a area with massive north-south pedestrian flow. This safety issue has not been addressed.

Need

University has presented vague indications that the footbridge will be inadequate for foot traffic, yet currently the footbridge has cycle barriers on it, and no consideration has ever been made that the removal of these would address this problem.

The level of vehicle traffic indicated by the university is incredibly low to build a bridge for, when suitable access is already available down Leith Street.

ENDS

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