Council making money out of thin air

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 05:00 27/08/2014

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Christchurch City Council is turning thin air into cash. It is is leasing air space over roads and footpaths to developers keen to maximise the size of its buildings.

Last year, the council gave high-profile property developer Antony Gough permission to rent public airspace for his new central city precinct, The Terrace.

It has now had a request from Peers Partnership for permission to lease airspace on the corner of Madras and Southwark Streets for a new commercial development comprising of shops, offices and a cafe that is already under construction.

Another application from a developer for the lease of airspace is also pending.

The applications are being treated on a case-by-case basis as the council has yet to amend the 2010 policy that governs structures on roads.

Before the quakes, it was rare for developers to rent public space over footpaths and roads for balconies, air bridges and other protrusions but council staff believe the impending rebuild of the central city is likely to give rise to an increased use of airspace as developers seek to increase the net area of their buildings.

Renting airspace from councils and neighbours is common in major overseas cities as developers and landlords strive to make the most of pricey land.

The practice is becoming more common in New Zealand.

The Auckland Council has developed an airspace policy and in tightly packed Wellington the council takes in $100,000 a year in airspace fees, of which more than half is from commercial buildings and the rest from apartments with balconies.

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- The Press

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