Bid to part-open Cathedral Square

NEW PLAN: The city council is planning temporary entertainment and gathering spaces in Cathedral Square.
NEW PLAN: The city council is planning temporary entertainment and gathering spaces in Cathedral Square.

A decision on whether Cathedral Square can be partially reopened to the public will be made today or tomorrow.

The Christchurch City Council wants Cathedral Square reopened, with public entertainment areas created to breathe life into the central city. 

With the permanent redevelopment of the Square still three years away, the council has applied for planning permission to build an "interim public space" so people can use the Square in the meantime.

A panel of commissioners considered the council's resource consent application on Tuesday and a decision on whether the proposed development should be allowed to proceed is due by the end of this week. 

Mayor Bob Parker said yesterday the council was keen to see at least part of the Square reopened to the public as soon as possible. 

"I just think there is a huge symbolic value to it. It's reclaiming another part of our city," he said. 

"So many people have said to me they are counting down the days till it is open again. "The revitalisation of Cathedral Square will be the catalyst to connecting the important regrowth areas of the central business district such as Re:Start, New Regent St and Worcester Blvd." 

The Square has been closed to the public since the February 2011 earthquake, apart from two weekends this year when a walkway was opened so people could go into the area and see the quake damage. 

During that time more than 32,000 people visited the Square. 

Under the council's proposal for the Square, creative hoardings, plantings and seating would be used to create a temporary performance space. 

The police kiosk would be transformed into an information booth, temporary toilets would be put in place and lighting added so the area could be used at night. 

"The scale and shape of the interim space will vary depending on demolition and rebuild activity on adjacent private sites and the phasing of the Square redevelopment, " Parker said. 

The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority said it supported the council's plans but it could not put a time frame on when the Square might be reopened. 

Buildings in the Square still needed to be demolished, including the former Government Life building. "We have been working closely with the council and Scirt [Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team] for some time on what needs to be done to get the Square in a state that will allow public access, " a spokeswoman said. 

"Infrastructure repairs, demolitions, hazardous waste removal, access, lighting, haul routes and the health and safety of the workers will all be considered as part of the opening criteria."

The Press