31 Oct 2013

Car parking concerns in Christchurch transport plan

8:52 am on 31 October 2013

It appears the Government's transport plan for central Christchurch has fallen short of addressing concerns about the lack of car parking in the city.

The $72 million plan involves reducing the speed limit to 30km per hour in the centre, turning two one-way systems into two-way streets and making the central business district more friendly to pedestrians and cyclists.

One of the largest central-city property owners, Antony Gough, says he supports making the city more people friendly but fears there will be no people there to experience it unless action is taken soon on repairing the existing car parking buildings.

Mr Gough says a plan to limit most new car parking buildings to the edge of an area known as the core, stretching three blocks either side of Cathedral Square, will also hurt retailers.

Ballantynes department store managing director Mary Divine says more parking spaces are needed so the fledgling central city retailers can compete against the suburban shopping malls.

Spokesperson Di Lucas says people need to be encouraged to walk, cycle and use public transport.

The Government's Christchurch Central Development Unit says announcements will be made soon on when the existing car parking buildings will be repaired.

However, Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee says carparking in Christchurch is the city council's responsibility, not his.

He told Morning Report the carpark buildings needing repairs are owned by the council, and although the government is planning to buy one, it is the council's responsiblity to make plans for replacement carparks.

"We don't have the total magic wand that people seem to think we do," he says.

Transport Agency regional director southern Jim Harland believes the transport plan has struck the right balance between pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles and does allow for carparks to be built if needed.

Timeframe defended

The Government is rejecting criticism the plan for the future of transport in inner city Christchurch has taken too long.

The draft plan was released in November last year and the final decision announced by Mr Brownlee on Wednesday.

Labour Party Wigram MP Megan Woods says the final plan has taken too long.

However, Mr Brownee disagrees and says the Government wanted to allow the new city council to have a view.

He says a cost-sharing agreement between the council and the Transport Agency was confirmed only in July.