Two houses in the path of a cycleway will need to be demolished – likely against their owner’s wishes – now that plans have been approved by the Christchurch City Council.
The final route for the Quarryman’s Trail, a $15.5 million cycleway connecting Halswell to the central city, was approved by councillors on Wednesday.
It is one of the city’s 13 major cycleway projects. The Northern Line, connecting Belfast to Hagley Park, was also approved.
It comes after a long and fraught design process, which required council to ride a fine line between battling locals.
While most public submissions supported the plan, there were reservations about demolishing homes when alternative options were available.
The Somerfield houses – one on Barrington St and the other on Roker St, backing onto each other – comprise four units and are all occupied.
Treacy Lisle owns three of the four units. Last month she told Stuff it was a “kick in the guts” and criticised the council for its handling of the situation.
She had lived there for much of her life, as had her mother, who died in June.
The council had not yet made an offer. If Lisle refused to sell, the council would need to forcibly buy the land from her.
Despite most of the 466 public submissions supporting the route, the demolitions proved to be a sticking point for some, who felt it was “extreme”.
“Families have lost enough in Christchurch over the past six years due to the earthquakes, and I believe it is unethical and immoral to force more families out of their homes because of a cycleway that could be better designed and not take out more homes,” one submitter wrote.
Some Roker St residents, fearing their quiet street would become a thoroughfare for thousands of cyclists each day, also opposed the plan.
“Had we known about the upcoming development we wouldn’t have purchased our house in that cul-de-sac,” resident Sam Brown told councillors.
“I simply fail to see why a quiet family street needs so many people, why houses need to be pulled down, when there are other viable alternatives.”
The final Quarryman’s Trail route had been a compromise option for the council.
It originally wanted the cycleway to go down nearby Milton St, which was more direct, already had a marked cycle path and would not require any demolitions.
It backed away from that option when it became clear businesses would object to the fact that all of the road’s car parks would need to be removed.
The final route was likely safer for cyclists and less expensive, even with land purchases.
Pro-cycling groups largely supported the council’s plan, saying it would take cars off the road and make it safer for cyclists.
Youth-led group environment group Generation Zero said it showed council was serious about encouraging active forms of transport.
Spokes Canterbury chairman Don Babe said although the route wasn’t perfect, it was a good step forward.
“The resulting plans we’re looking at at the moment are not the Utopia that we as cyclists had hoped for, but they’re a reasonable compromise between our dreams and what is acceptable to others and achievable.”