Cathedral Square to come to life

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 05:00 08/01/2013
An impression of the temporary entertainment and public space the Christchurch City Council wants in Cathedral Square.
ENTERTAINMENT ZONE: An impression of the temporary entertainment and public space the Christchurch City Council wants in Cathedral Square.

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Christchurch City Council plans to bring Cathedral Square back to life have been given the go-ahead.

The council has been given permission to create a temporary entertainment space in the Square before the area is permanently redeveloped.

An overhaul of the Square is one of the anchor projects of the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan but it is not due to be completed until 2016.

The council hopes a makeshift entertainment space will give people a reason to go there in the meantime.

Its approach could already be paying dividends.

Council documents show a private hospitality provider has applied for resource consent to set up a temporary hospitality precinct in the Square, although there are doubts over whether it will proceed as the application is on hold.

In a resource consent decision released yesterday to The Press, the Joint Management Board, the planning authority set up last year to fast-track consent applications relating to the new central business district, approved the council's plans for a transitional project in the Square.

"The transitional Square area will have landscaping to help achieve the ... goals of a greener public space and the street furniture and outdoor theatre area will provide spaces for people to sit and be entertained or simply relax," the board said.

The council has been working with Cathedral Square property owners, the Christchurch Central Development Unit and Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism on how it can stimulate development and attract people back to the area.

When the council will be able to start work in the Square will depend on the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority and how quickly it can make the area safe for the public.

Some buildings in the Square, including the former Government Life building, have still to be demolished.

Cr Yani Johanson said it was important people were given access to the central city as soon as possible because each day the area was shut the harder it became to attract people back.

"People really want to come back to the central city, so it's important we get public spaces open again. They have been closed for far too long," he said.

The council has yet to release details on how much its temporary development of the Square will cost.

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- The Press

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