Bold vision for port's potential

ALAN WOOD
Last updated 05:00 26/06/2014
Simeon Quay
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SIMEON QUAY: An artist's impressions of how Simeon Quay at Lyttelton port might look like.

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Cafes, bars and a commercial marina are part of Lyttelton port's vision for public access onto the harbour front.

Lyttelton Port of Christchurch (LPC) yesterday unveiled its $1 billion upgrade plans, which include the development of Dampier Bay to create a vibrant waterfront to draw in Cantabrians. LPC chief executive Peter Davie said the inner harbour could include a wooden boardwalk area and landscaping of the foreshore into hospitality, a fish market and green areas.

''Christchurch is a funny city in that we've got a lot of water, but you don't have a lot of areas you can go and sit by it, enjoy it. The development of this area will allow that to open up,'' he said.

Davie would like to get the project underway quickly and consultation with locals and specific interest groups would start from Saturday at a ''port talk'' kiosk in London St.

Plansfor the revamp may hinge on successful private investment, the port company says.

LPC wants to talk with developers to take a lead on the inner-harbour access project.

Davie did not give a definitive time frame but said an integrated harbour-marina development could eventually handle 300 boats, up from 70 now.

"We'd like private people to come in and develop it with us. We're not property developers . . . but we also want to maintain some sort of control because we don't want to find in time it's shutting down dry docks or other operating parts of the port."

In 10 years, a second stage of the project would include the development of number 7 wharf and other space near finger wharves for further cafes and restaurants.

Davie said the port had put a dedicated cruise ship terminal on the backburner because it made no financial sense to invest in a specialist wharf that could cost up to $45m. Tens of millions of dollars of outside money would be needed.

He had briefed cruise company representatives about being willing to lose the business.

"Cruise ships is a really difficult one for us at this stage.

"Commercially it doesn't work, so the amount of money that we need to invest is well in excess of a return we'd get from the industry," Davie said.

"We're building that up into a [financial] model and saying, 'This is what it looks like as a whole', and then we'll be discussing that with the industry, with the tourism operators, with the Government and saying, 'Is there an appetite for this?"'

The port lost most of its cruise ship business to Akaroa harbour after the 2011 earthquakes.

To make Lyttelton an easier destination for Christchurch residents, the port was looking to improve access across the busy Norwich Quay. Each week, about 1200 trucks carry hardfill to its reclamation area.

The port has been looking at whether the public can go under or over the busy road.

"We're thinking about how we connect it back up to Lyttelton town as well, so people can flow between the two," Davie said.

LPC was in talks with the local Rapaki hapu and the city council for input into its ideas, he said.

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