Christchurch Diocese opposes city parking plan

The Catholic Diocese of Christchurch has added its strength to overwhelming public opposition to an “incredibly valuable” central city site being sold to Wilson Parking.

The diocese made one of 267 public submissions on the sale and, of these, 219 oppose the Christchurch City Council (CCC) proposal to sell the site to the Hong Kong-based car parking management company.

As well as a new Cathedral, and an administration centre, the diocese, which owns a neighbouring block, plans to build a 600-space car park building on its land.

Through its legal firm Chapman Tripp, the diocese claims the consultation process for the sale was flawed because the size and scale of the proposed car park were not made public.

“The consultation is therefore not genuine and is likely to be the subject of a challenge if the sale proceeds,’’ the letter states.

Last November, Chapman Tripp made a request to the Council under freedom of information laws for “all materials held by CCC in relation to the intended future use of the site.”

When the Council didn’t release any drawings or plans of the proposed car park, Chapman Tripp complained to the Ombudsman.

“Our client’s view is that the Council is delaying providing us with the information requested to frustrate the consultation process,’’ the letter stated.

“The response from Council smacks of sophistry and it is our client’s view that the consultation is not genuine.”

The Council staff response to the Chapman Tripp letter was attached to the report for councillors.

It said, “these drawings and plans [for the proposed car park] either do not exist or are not held by the Council and the Council expects that these will be developed over time by the preferred respondent through the design and resource consent process.”

But councillors have been told that the new Court Theatre’s existence will be threatened without a car park building next door.

Others opposed to the sale raised different issues.

“Don’t expand their empire. Look at ethical and community-based options for parking and/or use of this land,” said one.

“At [the] very least, if you really want yet another car park, … at least make it a council-owned and run car park and not just another Wilson park that serves only the wealthiest of our society, with little care of the future.’’

Not everyone thinks it’s a terrible idea, however.

One said the health and sustainability of the whole [arts and cultural] area was dependent on the car park building.

“This process should not be about a popularity contest for Wilson,” said another.

Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel said CCC had previously decided to build a car park building on the site and the consultation process was only about the sale of the land.

A decision about the sale will be made this week.


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