Fri, Feb 2, 2024 12:00 PM

Iwi appeals decision to deny self-serve car and pet wash


Maia Hart

A top of the south iwi is still trying to open a car and pet wash in Blenheim, despite the area’s “complicated traffic environment”.

A resource consent for the new business proposed for Horton St was denied by the Marlborough District Council last year following a decision from independent commissioner Antoinette Besier.

Antoinette cited various concerns in her decision, including escaping dogs, queues on the highway, and the site being too small for “required manoeuvring.”

The proposed site, which is currently a Ngāti Rārua car park next to Blenheim’s i-Site, would have six bays, a covered vacuum bay, and a dog wash space.

Ngāti Rārua Settlement Trust has filed an appeal with the Environment Court.

In its notice of appeal the iwi says the consent authority was wrong to conclude the site had insufficient capacity to accommodate customer vehicles or provide sufficient manoeuvring space.

The notice says Ngāti Rārua thought the consent was also wrong to conclude the proposed activity presented an “unacceptable risk” of queuing vehicles creating congestion at the adjacent right of way and entrance to the site.

It says the decision gave too much weight to evidence of the potential risk to traffic safety generally and specifically at the Horton St roundabout and level rail crossing, and to pedestrian safety.

It says the consent authority was wrong in giving insufficient weight to the applicant's evidence as to the experience of traffic management on similar sites operating the same activity.

During consultation, in August 2022, New Zealand Transport Agency Waka Kotahi said it thought the state highway running through Blenheim would be unaffected, as the car wash would not attract much traffic, and vehicles could queue on-site.

The consent decision, released last year, said Marlborough Roads senior transport planner Laura Skilton argued the site was better suited to “low trip generating activity”.

She said customers could find it difficult to leave a queue – and in her own analysis found at least 55 per cent of the time at least one vehicle would be queueing, and there was an 8 per cent likelihood of more than four vehicles queueing at a time.

Access to the site was from a shared right-of-way, and the site was too small for the “required manoeuvring” during busy times, Laura said.

In her decision, Antoinette placed no weight on the suitability of the site for either high or low traffic-generating activities, but on traffic safety.

Multiple factors were considered in reaching her decision, she said.

From her site visits, she noted the location was a “complicated traffic environment”.

Based on Laura’s evidence, she considered there was not enough manoeuvring space at the site, and there was potential for customer vehicles to spill out of the site when queueing at peak time.

The safety and efficiency of the Horton St roundabout, which submitters described as confusing, could be impacted, Antoinette says . While the risk of a dog escaping onto SH1 was low, the consequences could be “significant.”

“Given the volumes of traffic in this area and existing layout, I consider that this potential adverse effect on traffic safety is more than minor.”

LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air.

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