Vacant space in CBD lowest since 2010

We wish to clarify matters raised in a letter (November 5) about CBD revitalisation.

Regarding empty shops, the latest (2017) Telfer Young CBD survey, released February 2018, found vacant space was at its lowest since 2010, also noting a large increase in new suburban retail shops which, it said, made the vacancy decrease "even more impressive" and reflected increased economic confidence and strong tourism.

Regarding encouraging pop-ups and start-ups, the council has done, and continues to, actively do this.


The letter calls for improved parking enforcement – this is a key expectation of upcoming parking service changes.

Incentives for CBD workers to use the Pukuatua parking building, and free parking for shoppers, are already in place. Parking building concession cards cost $20 for five days. Free parking has been available in key CBD areas, at the request of inner-city businesses/retailers, since December 2013, time limits ensuring turnover and fair-for-all access.

It was suggested the council revise regulations to allow CBD conversions into flats "as of right" and remove parking requirements for redevelopments.

Requirements for converting retail/office to residential ensure accommodation is habitable and safe. This is legislated (Building Act and Building Code) and cannot be changed by the council. Parking requirements for CBD developments were removed in 2014.

Celebrating cultural and religious festivals in the CBD was suggested. The markets regularly celebrate events including Diwali, Christmas, Matariki and Chinese New Year.

The letter also called for reopening of the museum and performing arts centre. These are progressing as priority projects with construction to begin on both next year.

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Jean-Paul Gaston
Strategy Group Manager
Rotorua Lakes Council

Ban fireworks

Congratulations to the mayor of Wellington, Justin Lester, who has banned fireworks in his city in favour of a public fireworks display to celebrate Matariki.

On November 5, there were over 100 callouts to fire services.

In the South Island five people had to be evacuated from their homes, threatened by a bush fire confirmed to have been started by fireworks.

In my view, Guy Fawkes, who planned the failed Gunpowder Plot in 1605, for which he was hanged a year later, has had his run of notoriety. Now, surely, it is time to celebrate our New Zealand heritage.

Jackie Evans