Cherry festival parking reviewed

New Zealand Cherry Blossom Festival. Photo: Supplied.

Waikato District Council say they will discuss “inconsistencies” with traffic numbers at the New Zealand Cherry Blossom Festival in Matangi with event organisers Paul Oulton and Anne Cao.

The festival, which was held over three weekends and ended on Sunday, attracted more than 7000 people – three quarters of them from Auckland – but incurred the wrath of neighbours who claim the council dropped the ball on the event.

They say the council’s new rules around events did not take into consideration the impact on their rural road, lifestyle and properties.

The festival, now into its sixth year, ran as a temporary event under the council’s District Plan and so did not require a resource consent.

Neighbours say anyone can now run up to six events a year without a resource consent and with no cap on numbers or a traffic management plan.

“With a big event you’re always going to have some issues,” said Oulton, who said bad weather hit crowd numbers to the festival this year, but it was still a success.

The couple contracted McAdams – a Hamilton-based temporary traffic company – to complete a traffic management plan which showed the roads around Matangi could cope with the extra cars.

Cao said they were in talks with the council and neighbours about making good any damage to berms caused by cars and the wet weather. Some damage occurred prior to the festival but boy racers caused that, they said.

Roger MacCulloch

Council Customer Support general manager Roger MacCulloch acknowledged neighbours’ concerns saying events can be disruptive.

“We work closely with event organisers to minimise disruption wherever possible,” he said.

The council saw the traffic management plan in its role as the road controlling authority. Organisers said it addressed additional traffic movements and public safety, but the council did not have the opportunity to assess the festival against the Operative District Plan and the Proposed District Plan.

MacCulloch said they have now identified inconsistencies with traffic numbers.

“A council traffic engineer attended the festival to monitor compliance of the TMP and was satisfied that pedestrian and vehicular safety was maintained.”

Council removed a fence one of the neighbours put up on council land to protect the berm because is “compromised” the temporary management plan.

Berm damage, Matangi Road. Photo: Supplied

Another fence remained as it did not, said MacCulloch.

“Council will be working with the event organisers to repair any damage caused to the berms resulting from parking connected to the festival and to ensure that rubbish is disposed of correctly.”

The council would work with both neighbours and organisers to address concerns and find “common ground,” he said.

  • After The News went to press, Anne Cao provided photos and said the couple had repaired the berm and cleaned some of the drains on the parking area.

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