Central city  |  4 Sep 2023

The Council is urging Central City property owners to continue the good work underway to improve the appearance of vacant land.

 With visible progress on Te Kaha, the Court Theatre, new office developments and staged improvement to Cathedral Square, the Central City experience continues to add new attractions.

The plea to keep up momentum on improving the look of vacant sites comes as latest statistics, in the Council’s Central City Biannual Report, reveal that since 2020, the amount of vacant land in the Central City has decreased by over 22 hectares. That’s an area equivalent to 11 Latimer Squares.

“Residents will have noticed the huge improvement in the appearance of sites in our city centre in recent months,” says Bruce Rendall, Head of City Growth and Property at Council.

Since 2021, temporary car park surfacing, lighting, and landscaping have also been required to be improved, matching the Council and the private sector investment in the Central City’s streets and buildings.

“The Council and landowners are working together to support the use of vacant land and improve the appearance of temporary activities until sites are ready to be permanently developed,” says Mr Rendall. 

“But action on remaining prominent sites is now becoming even more important as we see the result of that investment in growing visitor numbers and the residential population,” he says.

Spending data reveals a bounce in visitors to the Central City over the 2022/2023 summer. Visitors contributed to a record $550m of spending during the first half of the year. 

In the peak January to March period, visitors spent $80 million in the Central City - 29 per cent of the total city spend.  Settled weather and events including SailGP and Bread and Circus contributed to the interest.   

“These figures underline the appeal of our Central City,” says Councillor James Gough.

“With a removal of travel restrictions in China in recent months, we can be cautiously optimistic that summer 2023/24 will be even better.”

The report also shows 159 new houses were built in Central Christchurch between January and June this year – twice the number completed in the previous six months. 

Data shows that a further 156 new homes were under construction at the end of June, and that a further 96 were granted building consents in the last six months – contributing to the total of 337 new homes in the development pipeline.

“The benefits of living in the Central City are becoming more and more obvious,” says Councillor Jake McLellan.

“Buyers and investors are gaining confidence from the delivery of new facilities, public spaces and commercial services and communities are being supported as the population grows.”

The Central City Biannual report, which will be presented to the Council on 6 September, covers the key work that has taken place in the Central City from January to June 2023.

Progress on Central City projects

The following progress has been made on these major Central City projects between January and June 2023:

Citizens’ War Memorial

Repair of Christchurch’s historic Citizens’ War Memorial was completed and rededicated in February.

Te Kaha

Foundation work is complete, and vertical construction began in June. Plans were finalised for street upgrades surrounding Te Kaha to cater for demands from event audiences.

Performing Arts Precinct

Construction of the Court Theatre (set to open in 2024) is now visibly progressing.   A Request for Proposals was invited by the Council on the residual land at 129 Gloucester Street.

East Frame One Central Residential Development

Work continues on different blocks in One Central. The Cambridge Quarter (across the river from the Margaret Mahy playground) and Carriage Quarter (between Hereford and Cashel Streets) are nearly complete.

Christ Church Cathedral

Stabilisation was finished in March, allowing the main reinstatement work to proceed safely. Work on the Cathedral’s foundations has begun.

Cathedral Square

Work is complete outside the Old Post Office building. Work has commenced in the areas in front of the Old Government Building, Distinction Hotel and Spark building.

The Grand

The new mix of hospitality, visitor information centre and shops in the Old Post Office in Cathedral Square is expected to open in Spring 2023.

Other significant commercial buildings under construction

33 Cathedral Square. Construction has commenced on a four-storey office and retail building on this prominent corner of Cathedral Square.

93 Cashel Street. Construction of a building is underway in this final vacant Cashel Mall gap—adding new retail space and a hospitality venue.

211 High Street. Construction of a significant retail, hospitality and office building is underway. The development will reinvigorate this key section of High Street, linking Cashel Mall to the SALT district.