Subdivision residents hemmed in after dispute over tiny stretch of road

Meet the community – 3000-strong – stranded by a dispute over an 80-metre stretch of road.

For years, a second main exit from the Prestons Park subdivision in Christchurch has been planned, but the road remains unfinished as the council and developer argue over the intersection design.

The planned egress is at the south end of the subdivision. While it sits incomplete, residents have been forced to take a labyrinthine route to the main northern exit, or head out a narrow eastern one.

The limited options have left them concerned about congestion and safety, not to mention frustrated.

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This month, a nearly 700-strong signature petition demanding action was delivered to the Christchurch City Council.

One signatory commented: “Can’t somebody get their bum off their seat and actually do it? Could Mr Mauger [the Christchurch mayor] hop onto his bulldozer?”

There's only 80-odd meters between the main road and the subdivision.  It has sat unfinished like this for years.

ALDEN WILLIAMS/Stuff

There’s only 80-odd meters between the main road and the subdivision. It has sat unfinished like this for years.

Resident Lyn Bunn organized the petition and said a day after it was delivered, she spoke to the subdivision developer – CDL Land – for the first time.

They told her that work was finally set to start in January 2023, if it got sign off by the council.

The news left her hopeful, but Bunn said she would only believe it once she saw diggers on site.

Resident Lyn Bunn got nearly 700 signatures on a petition demanding for action on the unfinished road.

ALDEN WILLIAMS/Stuff

Resident Lyn Bunn got nearly 700 signatures on a petition demanding for action on the unfinished road.

She said the community just wanted the developer and council to get on with it.

“It’s the last thing that would make everybody happy,” she said. “It’s a good development and it just needs to be finished”.

Sections in the subdivision have been on sale for seven years, Bunn said. She bought her home in May 2020.

“If we all had to evacuate this, 3000 people trying to get out one entrance would just be diabolical,” Bunn said.

These residents told stuff they are concerned about congestion and safety from having just one main exit out of the subdivision.  Finish the second exit, they say.

ALDEN WILLIAMS/Stuff

These residents told stuff they are concerned about congestion and safety from having just one main exit out of the subdivision. Finish the second exit, they say.

Other residents that stuff met this month echoed those concerns.

Congestion at the northern exit was horrendous, especially at the end of a school day, they said.

The unfinished exit meant, as one resident put it: “[You have to go] a few kilometers out of your way north, to go south.”

Councilor Kelly Barber said he understood the disagreement between the council and the developer related to the extent of the works the council was asking the developer to do.

Councilor Kelly Barber says the Prestons Park unfinished exit situation cannot be allowed to ever happen again.

CHRIS SKELTON/Stuff

Councilor Kelly Barber says the Prestons Park unfinished exit situation cannot be allowed to ever happen again.

Such an impasse should never happen again, he said.

“The two parties should have agreements in place, particularly in terms of exits and entrances,” he said.

Forcing so many residents to rely on the northern exit was illogical and unsafe, he said.

“You’ve got literally thousands of people trying to get out,” he said.

A council spokesperson said they understood the frustration of residents and had worked with CDL Land to find a solution.

The key delay behind the road is the design for the new intersection, Christchurch City Council says.

ALDEN WILLIAMS/Stuff

The key delay behind the road is the design for the new intersection, Christchurch City Council says.

The key delay was the “engineering design” for the new intersection where the exit would join the existing road, the spokesperson said.

The council and CDL Land were working to agree on a final design that was acceptable to both parties, they said.

“There has been progress made.”

The spokesperson said it was important that the council required an appropriate design “to ensure consistency of design across the network and longevity of the changes made”.

The mayor said this month that work on the unfinished exit was “imminent”.

Mauger said he was guilty of previously telling some residents that the work would be underground in July 2021. “At the time, I actually thought that that’s what was happening,” he said.

CDL Land did not respond to a request for comment.

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