Thousands of workers filling up new central city office buildings are set to worsen Christchurch’s parking nightmare.
Colliers International estimates there will be more than 14,000 office workers west of Colombo St by next year, more than 9000 of them west of the Avon River near the parking-strapped health precinct.
The opening of a new Health Research Facility opposite Christchurch Hospital next year will add to the problem, potentially bringing another 2000 people into an area where thousands of patients, staff, visitors and construction workers are already battling for a diminishing number of parking spots.
When the new Hoyts EntX cinema and dining complex on Colombo St opens in May 2018, developer Calder Stewart calculates there will be 15,000 people, mostly office and construction workers, within 300 metres.
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Colliers commercial leasing director Brynn Burrows said people shifting into new office buildings may be accustomed to suburban workplaces with plentiful parking, but they would have to adapt.
“My message to tenants has been pretty straight: if you want to be in the CBD, you don’t have car parks.”
A local body Urban Development Strategy programme helps employees moving back into the CBD consider alternatives to driving and is having some success.
A survey of 1000 staff showed the number intending to travel by car had dropped from 70 per cent to 26 per cent, and some employers were subsidising metro cards to encourage employees to bus.
But frustration over congestion, unsafe new street layouts, and lack of parking is taking a toll on businesses.
Savills real estate company managing director Jonathan Lyttle is looking for new premises because his St Asaph St building is proving unworkable.
“It was a good location, now it’s absolutely jammed. Our customers get frustrated because they can’t find parks . . . so we have to go see them.
“[My staff] can’t cycle with a whole lot of building plans and computers in the rain and cold in suits and high heels.”
In the Deloitte building on Cambridge Tce, Deloitte partner Steve Wakefield said staff going to see clients needed the flexibility of parking close by, so the firm recently negotiated to lease spaces in the new West End car parking building just down the road.
There were also safety concerns for staff walking long distances to their vehicles in the dark, with four assaults on Christchurch Hospital staff reported in the last 18 months.
PSA national secretary Erin Polaczuk said the security and availability of parking at the hospital was a worry, and the situation was only going to get worse, with more government departments and state sector agencies moving back into the CBD.
“It’s clear the Government has not thought through this crucial aspect of infrastructure.”
Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister Gerry Brownlee and Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel commissioned Development Christchurch Ltd to prepare a report on car parking options for the metro sports facility and the health precinct, but a request for a copy was declined on the grounds it was commercially sensitive.
On Friday, chief executives of the CDHB, council and crown agency Otakaro met urgently and agreed to take a joined approach to finding permanent long-term parking solutions.
CDHB chief executive David Meates said he was “confident” they had come up with some good solutions, and all agreed they needed to be fast-tracked.
Council general manager city services David Adamson said the council had about $6 million left in its budget for car parking and saw the provision of future parking as a partnership between private and public developers.
He said there was a desire to build a car park building for the performing arts precinct and a plan was being prepared on demand for parking in the north of the CBD where there was an obvious gap.
The council said it had met its target of 2500 metered car parking spaces and Wilson Parking said it had 1200 spaces in the central city.