Affected business owners and residents are angry plans to change the route of State Highway 1 through Kaikoura have been released before they were consulted.
The Kaikoura District Council and the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) last week released a proposal to deviate SH1 to improve safety and manage traffic flows around its intersection with Ludstone Rd and West End.
The busy intersection had been causing problems for a long time.
Following a review of possible solutions and discussions, NZTA and the council recommended a 500-metre deviation along Lyell Creek to join Beach Rd opposite Kaikoura Top 10 Holiday Park.
The route uses an existing designation for state highway purposes in the Kaikoura District Plan and the project is expected to cost more than $16 million.
Deborah Kitchingham, of The Little Laundromat on Beach Rd, was “hugely disappointed” at the lack of consultation.
Her business is directly in the path of the proposed realignment as it joins Beach Rd at a new intersection opposite the Kaikoura Top 10 Holiday Park.
“It’s just like a kick in the guts,” Kitchingham said. “I first heard about it along with the rest of Kaikoura on Wednesday.”
Kitchingham, who had plans to expand her business and accommodation, said it was disempowering.
“It’s put my business on the back foot, to have my future presented so openly. Either parties could have contacted us, and although we’ve known about the designation for many, many years it’s the shock of not being forewarned. It upsets a lot of people,” she said.
Margaret Egan, who owns a neighbouring house, said her husband spoke with a NZTA representative in April about whether they would take up the existing designation for the state highway.
The representative said they should concentrate on earthquake repairs and he would be in touch if the position changed, Egan said.
“I assumed nothing was going to happen, and the first we heard of NZTA taking our land was when the public announcement was made.”
Corina Allen has been operating the Beach House Cafe for six years and has a lease until 2023. The cafe employs seven staff and, if the highway realignment goes ahead, it will take most of the property.
“I was really gutted we weren’t told at first.
“We should have been told before it went public instead of hearing about it from a customer reading the newspaper in the cafe.
“At this stage I don’t know how it will affect us because no-one has talked to us,” she said.
A Kaikoura District Council spokesperson said the consultation process had been led by NZTA.
NZTA design portfolio manager Mike Blyleven said the road designation had been earmarked for some time.
In hindsight, NZTA could have given a courtesy call to let affected businesses and homeowners know it was actively looking at the idea, Blyleven said.