Christchurch City Council is introducing an incentive for property owners in the central city to keep their vacant sites tidy.
The Council has approved a new rating scheme that will affect the owners of vacant properties in the Central City Business Zone and the Central City (South Frame) Mixed Use Zone.
In those two zones, property owners will be charged four times the standard general rate if there is no active or consented use being made of the land.
However, owners will be able to apply for a rates remission if they improve the appearance of their site and keep it tidy and well maintained.
They will also be able to apply for a rates remission if their plans to develop or build on the land have been held-up because of Council delays in processing resource or building consents.
“This new rating policy is about fairness and about providing property owners with a financial incentive to do something positive with their land,” says Mayor Lianne Dalziel.
“The private sector, the Government and the Council have invested huge amounts of money into rebuilding Christchurch’s city centre and to bringing people and jobs back into the area.
“However, there are still some pockets of poorly maintained vacant land in the central city, so we’ve come up with a financial tool to help incentivise action on those sites, as well as achieve a fairer balance of rates,” the Mayor says.
“We were shown images of the difference between two sites – one that was an inviting area for the public to use, the other a disgrace. Many business owners have been respectful of their location at the heart of the city and tidied up their sites. Others have not.
“Owners of vacant land currently pay relatively low rates as rates are based on capital value. However, they benefit significantly from the investment the Council makes in central city infrastructure so it is only right they should pay a fair share of the costs, if they won’t lift their game as many have.’’
Mayor Dalziel says some of the submissions the Council received during public consultation on the rating policy suggested that it should be extended to other areas of the city and to derelict buildings.
“We have asked Council staff to look into this and to report back with some options that the Council could potentially consult the public on next year,” the Mayor says.