Central city  |  14 Mar 2022

A proposed new rating scheme designed to give central city property owners a financial incentive to keep vacant sites tidy is now out for public consultation.

A proposed new rating scheme designed to make rating in the central city fairer, and give central city property owners a financial incentive to keep vacant sites tidy, is now out for public consultation.

The scheme is being proposed alongside Christchurch City Council’s Draft 2022/23 Annual Plan and will affect vacant properties in the Central City Business Zone and the Central City (South Frame) Mixed Use Zone.

In those areas, the Council is proposing to charge the owners of vacant land four times the standard general rate if there is no active or consented use being made of the land.

But owners will be able to apply for a rates remission if they improve the appearance of their site and keep it tidy and well maintained.

“This proposal has been put forward because of the frequent concerns raised by businesses, residents and visitors about the state of some vacant land in the central city,” says the Council’s Acting General Manager, Resources/Chief Financial Officer, Leah Scales.

“Over the past 18 months, 3.9 hectares of vacant central city land has been developed – that is the equivalent of about four full size rugby pitches. Despite the challenges created by COVID-19, confidence in our central city is growing and there is a lot of development occurring.

“However, there are still some pockets of poorly maintained vacant land that are impacting negatively on people’s perceptions of the area. As part of the consultation on last year’s Long Term Plan 2021–31, there was strong support for the concept of using financial tools – including rates – to help incentivise action on these sites,” Ms Scales says.

“At its core, it's about making things fairer. Vacant land in the central city benefits from the ratepayer-funded work the Council does – well-maintained roads and footpaths, facilities, parks, amenities, etc. – which make all of it a more attractive prospect for development and more valuable.

“Vacant land by its nature has a lower capital value, and so the general rates set on vacant land are low. This proposal helps even the scales – we plan all our central city infrastructure to cope with potential developments on vacant land, and this proposed change will help make sure the owners of this vacant land are paying their fair share of these costs.

“We’ve gone away and worked on a rating scheme that we think will make a positive difference but now we need to hear what the public thinks,” Ms Scales says.

You can find out more information and give your feedback via Have Your Say until 18 April 2022.