Futureproofing Wellesley Street East

Plan modification 58, Central Area Section of the District Plan – doesn’t that sound exciting?

Well, no.

Not even (maybe especially not) for CAA’s hardworking planning staff. But it turned out that keeping an eye on the city’s planning regime paid off. A quick check found that this plan change intended (still intends) to change some of the motorway land that NZTA currently owns on the eastern side of Grafton Gully – to a zoning that would allow future sell-off and then new development, for example for office buildings. So far – so irrelevant to CAA and cycling.

However, a close study of the area to be rezoned alerted us to the fact that this could risk precluding a future cycle and walking bridge from Wellesley Street East to Grafton Road. Something that has been sought after by Council, and advocates, literally since the State Highway 16 extension had been built down towards the ports. The proposed zoning change would mean that the future private development land would sit so close to Grafton Road, that one would struggle to ever build a clip-on bridge, or a new separate bridge, in the narrow remaining zone.

If you are not aware of it, the current overbridge has no footpath / shared path – and because the area is legally part of the motorway, cyclists are not even allowed allowed on the road crossing over the motorway itself! A bad design oversight (or, at that time, possibly even a concious “tradeoff”) of the type common as late as 5-10 years ago.

So CAA lodged a submission, asking for the future route to be protected, especially in light of the planned extension of the Northwestern Cycleway through Grafton Gully, which would make a “spur” over the motorway towards Grafton and the Domain even more useful in the future.

To their credit, NZTA quickly agreed with the planning oversight we pointed out, and has now corrected the proposed zoning designation to provide a 10m wide corridor in which a future bridge can “land” on the eastern side of the gully. Another small win for cycling, with the potential for a big win down the line.

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