Road shakeup riles shop owners

By Corey Charlton

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Marewa business owners are angry with Napier City Council plans to redevelop the roads around Marewa Shopping Centre, saying they have not been consulted and the changes will reduce customers.

Napier Mayor Barbara Arnott said the changes were required to improve safety at the Douglas Mclean Ave and Kennedy Rd intersection, which is the No1 crash site of all Napier controlled roads, and it was "very rare" for the council to turn down such safety recommendations.

The roading changes include a new cycle lane, the removal of the right-hand turns off Douglas McLean Ave, and the creation of a traffic island and one-way entry and exit points to the carparking on Kennedy Rd.

More than 20 affected businesses organised a meeting last week to discuss the changes, which were passed at the April 4 Napier City Council meeting.

At the council meeting a resolution to leave it on the table until there had been further consultation was lost in favour of a resolution passing the changes with consultation undertaken "prior to any work commencing".

Marewa Epic Cycles owner Julie O'Regan said the business owners had no consultation until the afternoon before the recommendation went to the council, and this consisted only of a brief chat with a council planner.

"This was the day before this plan was to be approved," she said. "And it went ahead and was approved the next day even though our two representatives here asked that it be put on the table and that we be consulted.

"They vetoed it through so it was carried and we still have not been consulted with. Even though they said they'd have a meeting with us, we're still waiting.

"We're very upset that we are the last people to find out about this. All the other businesses, it is their livelihoods and they don't even know what is going on.

"We just feel that they haven't even consulted anyone, so it is just disappointing, upsetting, and people are very angry about the whole business."

She said the business owners agreed with the removal of the right-hand turn on Douglas McLean Ave due to accidents, but said other changes, such as installing specific entry and exits points, would reduce the shopping centre's customer turnover.

"The turnover is definitely going to drop. It has been like this for some time and it is working, it works well. It allows people to get in, get what you want, and get out quickly, which is ideally the style of the shopping centre we've got here."

Mrs Arnott said the changes were aimed at improving safety for car users and pedestrians in the area.

"Safety is the No1 issue and the changes certainly give what the council sees as the best outcome in terms of safety," she said.

Mrs Arnott also said they would be organising a meeting with the business owners this week, and she was happy to tweak any aspects of the plan if the focus still remained on safety.

Asked why there had been no consultation, she said it was because it would be "rare" for the council to turn down safety recommendations.

"If we can tweak anything or change anything that better suits the business people then we'll do that whilst keeping the focus firmly on safety."

She was also confident the changes would make the area safer, and did not believe that it would harm businesses. "I can't see that that would happen, because every car has still got access in the same way ... All we're doing is making it safer for the cars to enter and exit."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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