At the beginning of March the commissioners hearing the notice of requirement (NOR) to enable the route to be designated recommended the NOR be approved. A few weeks later Auckland Transport accepted all of the associated recommendations meaning that for the first time a rail route through the CBD had been designated despite such an idea having been talked about at numerous times over the previous 90 or so years.
While the route is now designated it was never going to be the end of the matter as there was still the option for people/companies unhappy with the outcome to appeal to the Environment Court. Any appeals had to be received by the 19 May and five have been received. The one I most expected to appeal was Mediaworks as they seemed to make the most noise during the NOR process on the basis of concern from both the construction and operation of the tunnels which will be in very close proximity to their studios. In addition to Mediaworks appeals have also been lodged from:
- Samson Corporation Ltd and Sterling Nominees Ltd
- Tram Lease Ltd and CJM Investments Ltd
- Precinct Properties Ltd
- Stamford Plaza
Each one is slightly different but from my quick reading here’s an overview of the issues raised in each appeal.
Mediaworks are extremely concerned about the issue of noise and vibration that might result from the construction and operation of the CRL which they say could impact on their business. To address these problems they want lower sound and vibration limits imposed along with constant monitoring rather than 6 monthly as currently consented for. In terms of operation noise/vibration they effectively want to be able to shut down the CRL if the limit is breached.
In addition to the noise and vibration issues Mediaworks also appear to be concerned about the traffic on nearby New North Rd and that the NOR allows Auckland Transport to temporarily narrow access to their carpark to a single lane.
I suspect that of all the appeals that this is the one that will have the most time spent on it.
Samson Corporation Ltd and Sterling Nominees Ltd
These two companies – which are both owned by the same person – have two main concerns. The first is with the designation lapse period which has been set at 15 years whereas the statutory default period is only 5 years. They argue that a 10 year lapse period would be better, especially as AT say they want to build the project within that time frame. They suggest that leaving it at the longer period “invites unnecessary uncertainty and planning blight”. Their second issue is that they want compensation to their businesses for the disruption for any lost custom.
Tram Lease Ltd and CJM Investments Ltd
Like the companies above, Tram Lease Ltd are also concerned about the “Planing Blight” that might occur from having such a long time frame. Their main concern however appears to regarding parking and access to their land at 32 Normanby Rd both during and post construction. This is because Normanby Rd will be grade separated as part of the CRL project which is likely to impact how they can access their site and how much parking it has. They want the requirements amended so AT have to reinstate all the parking that currently exists along with full access to the site. CMJ Investments Ltd is one of the tenants on the site and are supporting the appeal.
Precinct Properties Ltd
Precinct say that AT included a number of the conditions they originally sought in the final decision but not all of them and that is why they are appealing. They don’t want the Downtown Shopping Centre site, lower Queen St, QEII Square and/or Lower Albert St used as building site. They say they generally support AT’s construction noise criteria but are concerned about excessive noise and vibration from construction. They also say they support AT’s rail criteria but want tighter vibration limits and a requirement that AT investigate and remedy any exceedance of this.
Stamford Plaza were one of the submitters who fought the designation the most. They say they are they are concerned about the impact from construction of noise, vibration, hours of operation as well as pedestrian and vehicle access to their site. They say their guests “require standard of overall amenity and quiet enjoyment during both daytime and night-time hours. They want stricter noise/vibration limits and more monitoring to occur, reduced hours of construction but also a limit on how long construction can take place outside their site. I’m not sure how you could reduce noise/vibration, reduce the hours of operation yet still get the project completed faster.
In addition they also want 18 months advanced notice of construction starting as they say they have to give advanced notice to their some of their guests and they want compensation for lost business.
I’m no expert but all up it seems like that with the exception of Mediaworks most of this is simply posturing for a better deal. I’m not sure when the case will be heard in the environment court but hopefully it would be this year some time so as not to hold up the project should funding be found.