Some roads are capable of disproportionate use for events like the Wanaka Fest, New Year,
Festival of Colour, Easter, etc.
Local knowledge plus judicious use of an events calendar should ensure no one is unexpectedly
There is a real risk in this case that the Council says ‘yes’ at an early stage and then, at the last
minute, is challenged on total closures for the year by a disgruntled party adversely affected by the
closure. It will be almost impossible to salvage the event at that stage.
Likely to impede traffic unreasonably.”
This is a very broad phrase that will require judgment on a case by case basis. However there are
a number of pointers which can be drawn:
i ‘likely to’ means more than ‘may be’. Council will need to reach a firm view that there is a
real possibility that traffic will be impaired. You would expect that this would come either
from our understanding of traffic volumes on the roads involved or specific expressions of
concern from parties affected. There needs to be some evidence that can be pointed to
other than just the opinions of the decision maker or advisers.
ii The lack of an available alternative will be prima facie evidence of unreasonableness. This
might be rebutted by evidence that there is no traffic during the period of the closure, or that
those affected had consented to the closure.
Consider for a minute the Gourmet Events Triathlon. The request was to close an arterial road.
We have a reasonable appreciation of the number and nature of trips made on that route. It
involves both private domestic, commercial delivery and tourism traffic with much of that
operating to structured deadlines. There is no alternative route. There is evidence that
other activities will be disrupted (e.g. DOC activities), and the closure is for a prolonged
iii There may be compensatory aspects that make the effects ‘not unreasonable’. Generally,
the greater the traffic interruptions, the greater the compensatory advantages required.
Those advantages may take numerous forms. For example: the chance to watch world
class sports events (World Tri), world class culture (Festival Of Colour), local participation
(competitive development for local sportspersons or kids), permanent infrastructure left
behind, etc. The exchange of money (e.g. some form of rental) will not generally be
appropriate. If we had summed up the total cost of disruption to local businesses and
individuals of the proposed ‘Hard Drive’ closure it would have been far more than anything
the applicant could have paid.
iv If dollars are changing hands, then that should be between the applicant and those adversely
affected by the proposal. If that leads to broad general comfort within the community with
the closure then that may be grounds for the decision maker to conclude that the interference
with traffic is not ‘unreasonable’. In that case, the community is entitled to expect that the
Council casts the net of those affected sufficiently wide that all reasonable effects are
v In this context those living on the road won’t be regarded as deserving greater weight than
those travelling along it to and from locations outside the closure. In general this question
has to be answered on a case by case basis. Locals living on the road are entitled to
assurance that medical help can reach them, and to be provided with a means to meet
important pre-arranged commitments. On other occasions, a local fair may warrant some
interference with exactly where and when people use their vehicle. The economic disruption
to a whole community by interference with programmed public transport may or may not be
more important than the benefits of an event.
vi Some consideration needs to be given to the nature of the event and what it might become.
An event of 100 participants in the first year might become 1,000 in subsequent years
creating unforeseen impacts. The risk of the event becoming a ‘victim of its own success’
needs to be discussed with organisers.
vii The time of year, and day of the week, may also be relevant. For example a road closure
may be reasonable in quiet periods but inappropriate over New Year. Mid week events may
have less impact than weekend functions.