GOVERNMENT has approved the construction of a 19-shop plaza at the Marist Brothers High School property to continue disallowing an appeal from Flagstaff residents and business owners.
Construction was stalled after an appeal from Flagstaff residents and business owners claiming the rezoning of the school ground into a commercial site would cause traffic congestion.
A letter from the acting permanent secretary for Local Government, Housing and Environment, Osea Cawaru, said the minister (Parveen Kumar) was satisfied the traffic impact assessment (TIA) carried out by the developers had already addressed the concerns raised and the objections raised had no merit.
Mr Cawaru said as per Section 5 of the Town Planning Act, the decision of the minister to disallow the appeal was final.
“The minister has considered the review carried out by the objectors’ traffic consultant. He has also considered Fiji Roads Authority response at the September 8 hearing of the appeal where FRA stated that all the issues raised by the objectors have been addressed in the final TIA submitted by the developers,” the letter stated.
The objectors’ main concern was in regards to traffic management in the area during the construction process and when the plaza would open for business. This as residents were already experiencing heavy congestion during peak hours and motorists were often unable to enter traffic from side streets.
During heavy traffic, pedestrians were also unable to cross the street easily.
According to the objectors, the plaza would bring more vehicles into the area and many of which would have to park on the street as there were only room for 41 cars in the plaza car park.
The objectors claimed the developers’ TIA, one of the documents on which the decision to rezone was based, was flawed.
According to the objectors, Traffic Design Group Ltd of New Zealand was engaged to peer review the TIA and found significant problems with the TIA, including that “pedestrian safety and amenity was poorly addressed as part of the development” and that “there are significantly safety effects regarding the design and operation of the on-street works”.
The independent review also found that the TIA underestimated the volume of traffic added to the surrounding road network and understated the effects of the proposed development.
This article first appeared in The Fiji Times on September 20, 2016.