Council cracks down on 120 unconsented central Christchurch car parks
Christchurch’s city centre is awash with “dirty, dusty, gravel pits” and the council has had enough.
About 120 car parks within the four avenues are potentially operating without the necessary consent, stifling the city’s revitalisation, Cr James Gough says.
The Christchurch City Council will this month send letters to owners of those sites, giving them 90 days to either cease their operations or apply for and be granted a resource consent.
If they fail to do so, the council could issue owners with a $300 fine and issue an abatement notice to cease the activity. Owners who ignore the notice could face court action.
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Gough said the “dirty, dusty, gravel pits” did nothing to build confidence in the city and its regeneration.
“The proliferation of them is an embarrassment in terms of our rebuild of the central city.”
While they served a purpose in the early days when the city reopened following the 2011 earthquakes, they now impede development, he said.
Off-street parking spaces in central Christchurch have doubled in five years and there are more than 200 vacant sites in the central city that have become car parks.
“There was a time for it but, a decade on, that’s not going to fly any more.”
Gough said there was little motivation for owners to develop their land when they were getting a reasonable return on a car park for little operating expense.
“You can’t blame them when the regulatory environment allows that to occur.”
When asked why the council was only taking action now, head of regulatory compliance Tracey Weston said the council had always responded to reports of car parks operating without the necessary consents.
However, the council is now taking a more proactive stance to manage vacant land as part of its central city action plan.
The council unveiled the plan along with Project 8011 in 2018, aimed at hastening investment, bringing in thousands of new jobs, more residents and boosting the city's income by billions of dollars.
A vacant sites programme, yet to be released, is expected to be considered by the council next week.
Weston said the programme aimed to proactively engage with landowners to understand their intentions for future development.
The council was not able to say how long the 120 sites have been operating without consents and it would not say where they are located.