New sites eyed for city bus terminal

Plans for a regional bus terminal in the car park next to the Highflyers building on Palmerston North's Main St are close to being dumped.

The city council last year entered a deal to lease the land and a portion of the Old Post Office building to provide an interim replacement for the dilapidated regional bus facility on the corner of Pitt and Main streets.

The original goal was to have the terminal up and running by the middle of last year.

City Networks general manager Ray Swadel said the council had tolerated delays while new plans for the Highflyers building were developed.

The building was expected to need earthquake strengthening work during the makeover, and the council had been keen to be part of a project that would help preserve a heritage site.

There would have been office, shelter and toilet facilities in a part of the building adjoining the car park.

But patience had almost run out, Mr Swadel said, and council staff were investigating two other inner city sites as alternatives.

"We have to acknowledge that the developer is not delivering on that project and is seriously behind schedule," he said.

"We are reaching a point when we have to give serious consideration to terminating that agreement."

Mr Swadel said that while not entirely giving up on what could have been a positive development, council staff had looked at six other sites for the regional buses and their passengers. They drew on advice from placemaking proponent David Engwicht in considering how to provide a site in a way that would bring people and activity to the city centre.

After discussions in a councillor workshop, the list of possibilities had been refined to two options.

"Pitt St needs to be evacuated," said Mr Swadel.

"We understand Inter City (run by Tranzit) want an equal playing field with the other operators, who do not have the costs of leasing space, and the facility is getting into a bad state of repair."

Mr Swadel said there would be a report to councillors in April presenting the options.

He was not prepared to publicly identify the sites being considered until that report was completed.

Earlier proposals to park regional buses along the edge of The Square caused public outrage and those plans were shelved pending the outcome of Horizons Regional Council's review of its urban bus services and terminal location.

Tranzit managing director Paul Snelgrove was not available to comment on the latest update.

In December he said the situation was frustrating, but the company was continuing to have discussions with the council and had made a proposal itself, in addition to the options the council had identified. The Manawatu Standard could not reach Lawrence Wen of E2 New Homes and Properties for comment on the delays with the Highflyers development.

Manawatu Standard