Following the earthquakes, over 1000 Central City buildings were demolished. While a good number of developments have occurred, there are still gaps that have yet to be refilled. Vacant sites may remain a feature of the Central City for many years to come. This is due to a combination of the more efficient redevelopment of some land and the loss of some businesses to other locations around the city.
Despite providing opportunities for future growth needs, vacant sites pose ongoing challenges, including:
- Large gaps break up the continuity of activity and impact on perceptions of safety after dark.
- Neglect and poor upkeep of sites create environmental issues including litter, weeds, dust and stormwater run-off, and can attract graffiti.
- Poor visual appearance reinforces views that the city remains ‘broken’ which dissuades visitors, undermines investment confidence, and deters potential homebuyers and commercial tenants.
- Unconsented use of land for temporary car parking is often poorly maintained and undermines investment made in new/planned parking buildings.
The Vacant Sites Programme aims to speed up the move to permanent redevelopment of this land and, in the interim, improve amenity of these sites. A range of tools is currently being considered to support landowner action. For the purposes of the Programme, a vacant site is defined as land that has been cleared and may be in temporary use as a stepping stone to permanent development.