Use of vacant land pondered

00:31, Mar 02 2012

Quake-vacated sections owned by the Christchurch City Council could be turned into entertainment spaces for the city's residents, following concerns about a lack of land for community groups.

Councillors voted to consider allowing the "temporary or transitional use" of land formerly occupied by council buildings at their meeting yesterday.

The Gap Filler group, which brings art and activity to vacant sites, has expressed concerns about the lack of available land in the city.

Gap Filler co-founder and project co-ordinator Coralie Winn said this week that finding suitable land was the biggest hurdle for the group, with many landowners preferring to rent their empty sites as car parks.

"It is very disheartening to see our city just becoming car parks everywhere. It doesn't inspire confidence."

Cr Yani Johanson, who suggested allowing community groups to use council land, told The Press he wanted to ensure that council-owned properties did not become an "eyesore" once quake-damaged buildings were demolished.

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"There's a number of sites that just end up as big vacant sites that look quite unkempt and quite untidy."

The council needed to lead by example and maintain its land so it could be used by community groups, Johanson said.

"Would you rather have something there that's entertaining and beautiful, or something that just sits there looking ugly and dull and bringing the neighbourhood down?"

The move came during discussions about the council's facilities rebuild plan, which was unanimously approved. The plan outlines the council's approach to the repair and rebuild of about 1600 of its facilities.

The council has created a priority list for detailed engineering evaluations of its buildings, based on factors such as age and significance to the community. Inspections are expected to take until 2014, and could cost up to $7 million.

Corporate services general manager Paul Anderson said the size of the council's building portfolio and the limited number of available engineers in the city were responsible for the lengthy assessment process.

Community services general manager Michael Aitken said the council would also need to consider whether it wanted to replace a building after it was demolished, or whether it could make changes based on community demand.

"In some places, it's a complete no-brainer that if a building goes down, we'll get on with the rebuild as soon as possible, but in other areas ... it will depend on the area and the site."

The Press