Too many car parks in city - Gap Filler

Christchurch's CBD is flooded with car parks and one of the city's main urban regeneration initiatives says the empty space could be put to much better use.

City council figures reveal there are 46 off-street car parks littered across the central city, with many often only half full.

The car parks are provided by the council, Tournament, Wilson, the Casino, as well as other public and private operators.

City council road corridor operations manager Paul Burden said there was an "over-supply" of parking in the city.

Burden said occupancy rates across the city were only at 61 per cent.

"There are few [parking] barriers to people coming back into the city," he said.

Gap Filler founder Coralie Winn said she would like to see more of the vacant sites used for something other than car parks.

"The sad thing is any vacant site becomes a car park and our city is extremely ugly because of that. There are better uses for sites than car parks."

However, she realised there was "no incentive" for landowners for their site to be used for a community-minded transitional project.

"One thing Gap Filler would like to see is perhaps a rates rebate or some kind of financial incentive for landowners to support the kind of projects we're involved in. That's certainly something we're trying for."

She said the "bigger picture" was that more transitional projects in vacant lots would attract people, bringing "more life" to the city.

Council revenue generated from parking has also dropped by millions of dollars. In the 2011-12 financial year the council made $2.2 million from parking, compared with $11m in 2009-10.

The figures were released after 100 Re:Start workers signed a petition calling for a designated free parking space for mall staff fed up forking out "ridiculous" daily parking fees when the car park is often bare. At the very least they are advocating staff be given a discounted rate, and cheaper car parks available for customers.

The petition was sent to Wilsons Parking, Central City Business Association and Re-Start manager Paul Lonsdale, the Christchurch City Council, Mayor Bob Parker, property investor Anthony Gough, and Tim Glasson, who sits on the board of directors for the Re:Start mall.

Lonsdale said parking had always been an issue for central city retail workers.

"Possibly that should be the case [that staff have free car parks]. But the question is who pays for it? Personally, I think it probably falls back on the company who employs them. If they want to make their staff more comfortable . . . they do need to look at some sort of allocation."

The Press