How not to repair a Heritage Building in the Christchuch CBD, Part 167….

So, whats new in Lower High Street…..

Most of the Billen’s building is gone as is the mess that was behind the frontage of McKenzie and Willis.  So that is an improvement.

Billens and McKenzie sites finally clear.

Billens and McKenzie sites finally clear.

Demolition contractors will start in the next few days “making safe 163 High Street”.

Section 38

Section 38 “make safe” about to begin on last unit in Duncans Building.

The Tuam St/High Street intersection is STILL a sea of road cones. It is pure incompetence on the part of the roading contractors that this area is not sorted. It is manifestly unfair on the few businesses trying to make a living in this area.

The hopeless progress on the High Tuam Intersection. A intolerable situation for retailers. 8-9 months progress!

The hopeless progress on the High /Tuam  Sts Intersection. An intolerable situation for retailers. 8-9 months progress!

I finally got our amended building consent from the CCC and we have gibbed and started plastering our ceiling and relaid a small section of floor that we had not seen for many years, that turned out to be seriously “munted”. ( (Not level).

It took 18 months to get permission to gib this ceiling. There is a serious bottle neck in the Fire safety department of consents at the CCC.

It took 18 months to get permission to gib this ceiling. There is a serious problem in the Fire safety department of Building consents at the CCC.

  • I also notice that it is Heritage week in Christchurch. I was surprised that the tours do not include High Street.  Pity.
  • I Notice that Barnaby Bennett took another shot at the Labour party in his latest opinion piece on Public Address.  I also see that that Press did not print it.  (With apologies to Tony Milne, who worked tirelessly for CHCH Central in his attempt to take the seat).

“The local MPs, including Ruth Dyson, Megan Woods and Eugenie Sage, have worked tirelessly and through huge workloads, but the Opposition en masse, the leadership, along with the national media, have failed to represent the scale of the issues here.  It’s all been seen as too hard, too detailed and too boring. The result of this is that the people here have not been well represented, or protected, throughout the biggest disaster in living memory in New Zealand”.

I agree with his views.   The Government and the opposition have failed to represent us. I pop the link here: http://publicaddress.net/speaker/11-ways-the-opposition-has-failed-christchurch/

Moving on….

It is with some irritation I have spent 2 weeks writing a submission for “Consultation number 4”.  Regarding the High/St Asaph/Ferry Road/Madras St intersection.  It has been hours of work. For the accessible city – transport projects proposed changes.

high st entrance

Oh what an irony, the plan that they propose locks off 2 of the 3 egress points from the street.  A situation that the retailers in the street have been fighting against for 40 plus years.  As long as I have been in High street and I hate to confess that it is nigh on 35 years, every few years the Council would come up with some new “idea” to shut off access to the street.  What it actually meant was that they could not cope with the diagonal nature of the street.  It just does not fit their roading models. All the models are designed to cope with a rectangular pattern. (CERA/CCDU have fallen into the same trap).

The plan that they have come up with is similar to all the others.  This latest version locks  off the egress BOTH to the west and the east and narrows the road way at the entry/exit point.  (Given that the street has no back access and heavy trucks are a regular feature of High Street, this plan is in the loony tunes basket).   It forces all our customers to egress thru a narrow slip way to the north.  The so-called “proposal” also reduces access to a narrow slip way with an awkward entrance. (What a bunch of flaming idiots.  They seem to have this bizarre idea that our customers do not want to be able to get anywhere near us).

The really annoying bit is that this plan was produced by CERA/CCDU or whatever they call themselves these days.  But the delicious irony is that it is delivered and packaged to us as consultation as a Christchurch City Council initiative.

I thought this nonsense had stopped.  After 5 years we are still being ruled by Wellington bureaucrats.

Well, when I got off my perch and checked it out, I found that the Christchurch City Council had not even seen this plan 24 hours before it was sent out to us. Collaboration and Co- operation???? hummn,  just more of the same treatment that the business and property owners have faced for the last 5 years.

I might add, I received the document in my mail box on the 23th September.  Consultation was swift indeed and had to be in by the 8th of October.  Really that is consultation????  Just who are you kidding.????? These are complicated documents and it takes weeks to get all the details required in a meaningful format.

I thought that an air of co-operation had finally descended on CERA/CCDU and that they had realised that they needed to stop acting like dictators and buzz off to what ever Wellington planet that they came from.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/69943847/council-claws-back-rebuild-power

“Following the discussion, cabinet recommended a more collaborative approach between Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee and Dalziel”.

yeah right!

Copy of Submission below,  for the really dedicated High Street fan!   Stop reading now if you want!  🙂

Unfortunately I believe the chances of winning this battle is slim and I suspect that many of the flaky decisions being made about roading in the city will need to be re addressed as soon as we get rid of the “powers that be”. Unfortunately as a small owner operator I do not have the connections needed to be noticed.  So I cheerfully continue this blogging until they top messing with me and start acting in a professional and thoughtful manner.

Apologies for the detail. The highlighted bits are the summary bits!

Re proposal for the  High St/Madras St/St Asaph St. Intersection

Background.
I am the only retailer/building owner and resident currently open and operating in the lower section of High Street,  so I will take the time to explain the situation here.  High Street is now trapped between 3 one way streets.  Further more, there has been a systematic, progressive dismantling of the historic “High Street diagonal link” as each section of High Street has been physically isolated from each other, often with “humps and bumps”.

The High Street Business Association has fought for the last 40 + years to keep the access and egress open and keep traffic flowing.   About 50 years ago when access to Ferry road was originally closed off and the one way system installed, High Street became a sea of empty buildings with boarded up windows. The street had become “too difficult” to get into and out off. It took 30 years for this situation to be reversed, slowly the street became tenanted by niche retailers and became a “destination”.  Lower High Street will now have one of only a few “Heritage Buildings”   (ie Duncans Buildings 1905)  left in the city and It is vitally important that we do not get isolated. We need traffic to be able to pass through the street and Short term park without too many obstacles.

I note also, that there is a No “Street Scape plan” for High St, this means that this current “proposal” is being implemented in isolation and is un-coordinated.  It is a piecemeal process, which involves picking off the intersections only, as has happened already at Tuam and Lichfield streets.

There are only going to be a very limited number of retailers in the lower High Street Block.  To survive this far from the CBD we will need to be specialised/destination shops.   We do not rely on foot traffic, nor do we rely on the polytechnic students. This means customers require easy access and egress: ie the ability to be able to pick up and drop off.

We also need constant turn over of car parks. Every 20 – 30 minutes ideally.  (This needs to be policed much more rigorously than in the past as both High  and St Asaph street’s have become cheap, long-term car parks for the Poly technic students and the surrounding building owners.)

Our Customers need access to parks within a reasonable  walking distance. Currently the parking building in Lichfield St is not available and the inner city free bus is not operating.

High Street needs traffic flow to stay vibrant and appealing.

The Proposal:

It makes the access and egress of Lower High Street more difficult and visually unappealing.

– A vehicle turning into Madras St (from St Asaph St) will have to cross over the 2 lanes of Madras St, to reach a  position in the far left lane to get into High St.  (Vehicles are likely to have a queue of cars behind them coming from St Asaph St  and also are likely to be exposed to oncoming traffic from Madras Street as the lights change.   The vehicle must also cross over the cycle lane.  There is no “safe area” other than the cycle lane. It needs a better turn off area.  

The right hand turning lane on St Asaph Street into Madras St – Will become more congested, as vehicles are both turning into High St and also wanting to go straight ahead on Madras Street.  

It is being made visually unappealing to turn into Lower High Street.  Customers face a TIGHT,  left hand turn, close to an intersection.  (It is going to be similar to the entrance from Manchester Street into the middle block of High Street. It is hard to find the  narrow entrance)    Visually it is being made difficult and unappealing.  This is not helpful to a street that is likely to be niche retail.

The  existing right hand slip way/turning lane from High Street into St Asaph St  gives our customers the option of getting direct access to the One Way Street  heading west with ease and safety.   
 The turn also creates the ability for “vehicles to go around the block”.  This is vital to any retail area.  

The proposal to get from High Street into St Asaph St will now require a 5 block detour, via Tuam/Barbadoes/St Asaph St’s,  or the alternative is  across Tuam, further down High Street than via Manchester Street, an even more difficult route.  This turn is VITAL to High Street in my opinion. A small narrow egress, cobblestoned and giving cyclists right of way, is easily achievable.  It does not require lights, as it operates as a free turn now.  (It will also break up what is going to be a large expansive of ugly asphalt.)
I see no reason to change the status quo.

The buildings along High Street DO NOT have off-street loading facilities and rely on the surrounding streets for delivery of goods.  The narrowing of the roadway at the High Street entrance/ intersection will make it difficult for heavy vehicles to access the street.

Our suppliers use large trucks to deliver product (heavy paper) to us.  We do not have access to the pedestrian lane way (that is going to be created behind the west side of High St).  The turning lane at the Madras Street Intersections is going to be too narrow  and too tight a turn to easily allow these truck access.  Currently large vehicles are having trouble leaving the street through the Madras Street slip way from Lower High Street, I am regularly watching drivers of heavy vehicles having a number of attempts at positioning themselves to get around the corner into Madras St.  It is too tight for large heavy traffic. And under this proposal there is no alternative route.

There will be a further loss of car parks/loading zone space in High St. This proposal means the loss of  part of the loading zone in front of 129 High Street.  This loading zone over the last 10 years has been extremely useful to both couriers and for short-term pick up and drop off’s. It should not be further reduced in size.

The widening of the footpath on the St Asaph Street (near the corner of High St/St Asaph st-along side 129 High Street). This is a dark, cold area, with limited foot traffic, there seems little point in narrowing off the street further at this point, and further reducing parking in this area. In effect that area will be asphalt and is and will continue to be unattractive.

The loss of the Ferry road link.  This is unfortunate as it further limits egress options from High street.  It is particularly useful for heavy traffic and a quick link to the east.

This proposal makes the implementation of the long-term CCC plan to extend the tram route to the restored Catholic Cathedral much more difficult to implement.  This is a shame as having the tram pass down a restored Heritage Street to a restored Heritage Cathedral is necessary addition to the tourist tram link as well as allowing transport options for the poly students heading towards the Lichfield bus depot.  

It is time for a parking building in the area.  This could also be used by the business owners, It would solve some of the parking issues.  (The proposed loss of 109 car parks adds to the areas problems, it does not solve them) A long-term solution to the parking issues involves the building of more parking building on edges of the city for staff/ owners to park and easy access to buildings.  Walking long distances with parcels, stock is not an option.

 Trees.    Large-leaved lime trees grow up to 35m tall.   35 metres  is too high. ( High st already has problems with the, currently, 13 metre high trees that we have with acorns and leaves).  The almost constant year round leaves gives maintenance problems and blocks roof and road gutters. “Go native”.  I suggest something a little smaller.

 History tells me that the work I have gone to here is pointless as there will be no real meaningful consultation with the building owners for the past 5 years.

 What a way to run a recovery.   

ps.  this is what 5 years progress on my house looks like.

5 years of progress by Southern Response, Benchmark and Arrow.

5 years of progress by Southern Response, Benchmark and Arrow.

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