New groups for Southern Link scrap

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Supporters and opponents of the long talked-about Southern Link highway are preparing themselves for battle, with new groups being formed on both sides of the debate.

Yesterday, a new community group called Vision Nelson Tasman was officially launched, and is backing the construction of the road. While another group, Guardians of Victory, opposes the road and has held several meetings in the past month.

The Southern Link, or Southern Arterial Route, is proposed to go from St Vincent St, past Victory Square and through the railway reserve to Whakatu Drive. Last year, the government announced that it would investigate whether there was a business case for the road.

Vision Nelson Tasman is chaired by Richmond businessman Craig Dennis and he says it’s being established as a coalition of organisations supporting regional progress.

“The Southern Arterial Route is a key piece of infrastructure that will give Nelson a much-needed boost,” he says. “This road will make it easier for people to travel to and from the wider region to the city and port, as well as offering the chance to re-develop the waterfront and Victory into modern, vibrant sectors of our community.”

He says Nelson has the second-fastest growth rate in New Zealand and over half its population growth is occurring in Stoke. The region is on target to hit 100,000 people by 2020.

Guardians of Victory coordinator Gayle Petch was unavailable for comment, but had previously told Nelson Weekly that completed studies don’t support building the road and they’re working with New Zealand Transport Agency to give them the concerns of Victory residents.

The government’s investigation is due to be completed this year.