Central city  |  15 Mar 2022

Councillors have rejected a proposed land sale that would have furthered development of a public carpark building in Christchurch’s Performing Arts Precinct, after strong feedback from the community.

Instead, with a nearby parking development planned by the Catholic Diocese of Christchurch and strong public opposition to the sale, Councillors voted to retain the land so that the Council can explore other uses for it in the future.

In November 2021, Christchurch City Council signed a conditional agreement with Wilson Parking New Zealand to purchase the empty land at 137–141 Gloucester Street – at market value at the time negotiation started.

Under the conditional agreement, Wilson Parking undertook to design, build, own and operate a 320–400 space public carpark building on the land, which is next to the Isaac Theatre Royal.

The agreement was subject to the results of public consultation over the associated sale of the land and the elected Council’s approval of that sale.

The Council received 257 public submissions, of which 38 supported the proposal.  The other 219 submissions were against the proposal.

The main themes of the submissions opposed to the proposal related to the need to future proof the city, and to climate change, with references to the Council’s Climate Resilience Strategy and its declaration of a climate emergency.

Those in support, including tenants of the Performing Arts Precinct, spoke about the current lack of parking facilities in the area and the opportunity to make visiting the precinct easier.

“Those who didn’t support the proposal cited the value of the land, and its strategic nature within the precinct – they want us to hang on to this asset for now and explore other ways to make it a valuable part of the Performing Arts Precinct without completely giving it over to vehicle parking,” says Brent Smith, Head of Vertical Capital Delivery at Christchurch City Council.

“Many submitters were also concerned, quite rightly, about our declaration of a climate emergency, and that we should be encouraging other ways of getting around the city besides cars.

“In the short term at least, we see parking facilities as critical to the success of the Performing Arts Precinct – the Council’s 2015 Christchurch Central Parking Plan identified the need for new off-street public parking facilities in the area north of Cathedral Square to help meet demand in the area.

“With the Catholic Diocese of Christchurch planning to develop public parking facilities at a nearby site, we have more options for how we put our own site to use.

“Our next step is to explore other possible opportunities for the land that will both support the performing arts in Christchurch, and contribute to the vitality of the area,” Mr Smith says.

The Crown transferred the Gloucester Street land to the Council in 2020 as part of the Global Settlement Agreement, with the expectation that a carpark building would be built there to help serve the Performing Arts Precinct.

The Performing Arts Precinct includes The Court Theatre, Isaac Theatre Royal and The Piano. A new parking building in that location will also support Te Pae and Tūranga.