Joint library-bus exchange for Riccarton?

CHANGING: The Riccarton Rd and Clarence St area could be boosted with a combined library and bus exchange.
CHANGING: The Riccarton Rd and Clarence St area could be boosted with a combined library and bus exchange.

City councillors are keen to explore whether the planned bus interchange for Riccarton could be incorporated with a new library and community centre.

The existing Riccarton Community Centre was badly damaged in the quakes and needs a significant sum of money spent on it.

The council has been tossing up whether it should spend that money on repairing the ageing building, which sits on a high profile site in Clarence St, next to the multi-storey Westfield Riccarton Shopping Centre car park, or whether it would be better to invest in a new facility.

Today, at a special meeting of the council's community committee, Riccarton-Wigram Community Board chairman Mike Mora said if the council was prepared to enter into discussions with Westfield about a potential land swap it might be able to secure the space it wanted on Westfield's Riccarton Rd frontage for a bus interchange, which could be co-located with a new library and community centre.

Mora said he had already raised that idea with senior managers at Westfield and they were willing to explore the possibilities.

Riccarton Rd property owner Arthur McKee, who has been pushing the council to use the Westfield frontage as the site for its planned bus interchange, said the council had an opportunity to make a great improvement to the Riccarton area.

''I believe the most wonderful opportunity is now presented to the council to combine the bus interchange with library, service centre and community centre on the Westfield site,'' McKee said.

The committee voted to set up a working party to explore options for rebuilding the community centre on an alternative site or buying or leasing a suitable existing building.

The working party will also look at public/private partnerships on the existing site and consider the possibility of how a bus interchange could be incorporated within any development.

It has eight to 12 weeks to report back to the council on its findings.

Community committee chairman Cr Yani Johanson said it was critical there was a community centre in the heart of Riccarton.

Deputy mayor Vicki Buck urged staff to think outside the box when considering plans for the community centre.

''The concept of what is a community centre in 2014 will be very different from the residual centre we have there now. We can be innovative and forward thinking in this area,'' Buck said.

The Press