Today we learned that Christchurch City Councillors have ignored the staff recommendation and reversed our long standing and agreed plans for a car park to be built within the Performing Arts Precinct.
Right from the outset we have partnered with the City in the understanding that our theatre patrons’ needs would be accommodated. These plans came under strong public opposition when Council consulted on selling the land to Wilson Parking.
Our patrons are our first priority and they have told us repeatedly that a car park next to the facility is essential to their continued patronage. We are now concerned that the success of The Court Theatre and its role in the Arts Precinct will be restricted if patrons do not attend the new facility because of the absence of adjacent parking, as is enjoyed today at our beloved Shed in Addington. However, as always, we will adapt and remain focussed on our core purpose – creating theatre for Aotearoa New Zealand.
We understand that the Catholic Diocese of Christchurch has now offered to build a more substantial carpark than they originally planned nearby on Armagh St. We hope that some parks will be made available for our patrons and we will be seeking early assurance of this from the Catholic Diocese.
The question of accessibility parks within a few steps of our doors is one that we will ask Council to address and confirm soonest. This is an important aspect of The Court ensuring it is accessible and welcoming to all.
We are concerned that ambitious building development plans and priorities often change or face budget pressures and substantial delays, as we have seen with both the Anglican and Catholic Cathedral rebuild plans, amongst others. We are now somewhat at the mercy of these other parties’ future car park plans which are not yet even in the public domain. They are plans that may or may not meet the time frames that are only suggested.
We welcome further discussions with Council to see how they suggest that these risks and consequences can be mitigated and hope some firm timelines and financial assurances can be offered.
On a positive note, our stunning new home continues to take shape for opening in 2024. We are so excited to have this world-class theatre in our near future and we have been assured by the project team at Council that they remain committed to partnering with us to realise our long-held vision of a theatre for all in the heart of the city.