After more than a century, Dunedin’s Octagon becomes vehicle-free zone

For the first time since the horse and kart, Dunedin's central Octagon will be a complete vehicle-free zone for the next two months.

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The heart of Dunedin takes on new look today with the council aiming to make the area more attractive for pedestrians, but the trial is upsetting some. Source: 1 NEWS

The Dunedin City Council (DCC) trialling it as a pedestrian-only zone in the hopes to make it a more vibrant and visitor friendly setting.

Vehicles of all kinds have flowed freely around the one-way carriageway for more than a century.

Kathryn Ward, Principal Urban Designer at DCC, says the community have been asking for the change for “a number of years”.

Work began this morning on a trial set to run for eight weeks.

However some businesses are not as positive about the idea.

“One of the councilllors said we're just grumpy business owners but it’s not the case, it's actually affected us,” café owner Steve Wilson said.

There are also concerns it will have an impact on tourism as cruise ship passengers are normally dropped off in the Octagon.

“I think with any consultation you'll please some people, you won’t please everybody." Ms Ward said.

Services such as courier drivers will still be able to get access with designated drop-off times. Car parks though will be lost.

The trial is happening at the same time as the Masters Games and the Elton John and Queen concerts, with high visitor numbers expected.

The business community is keeping an anxious eye on any impact on trading.