Street upgrade may cost businesses, landlords

David Benson-Pope
David Benson-Pope
A proposal to charge some Dunedin businesses and student landlords up to 10% of the cost of some street improvements is a step closer after initial backing by most Dunedin city councillors.

The idea, raised by Cr David Benson-Pope at yesterday's 2019-20 annual plan meeting, would result in a targeted rate used to raise extra money from central city businesses and property investors, and possibly even the University of Otago.

Those required to pay the one-off rate would be those who benefited financially from the council's planned $60 million central city upgrade and $20 million tertiary upgrade.

The idea would be subject to the results of a special consultative procedure (SCP) process, giving the public - including those expected to pay the extra bill - the chance to have their say.

Councillors at yesterday's meeting voted 10-2 to note the proposal, which would be considered through the SCP, outside the council's draft annual plan.

Cr Benson-Pope said his idea followed the approach taken in the 1980s and 1990s, when businesses benefiting from street upgrades along George, Princes and Stuart Sts - still in place today - were asked to make a financial contribution.

The charge then was a fee per linear metre of street frontage, used to calculate the value of the benefit each business received from the upgrade, he said.

Upgrades in the Exchange later used a special rating area to recoup the costs there, he said.

Cr Benson-Pope said his new proposal aimed at something similar, initially by asking the community if they felt it was appropriate.

If it went ahead, the bill could be based on the capital value of a property instead, he said.

The targeted rate would be used to pay only for streetscape improvements - such as new paving and furniture - and not the cost of underground work such as new power cables, Cr Benson-Pope said.

It would also be levied just once, when the work was finished, he said.

''I think it's a modest amount to be asking for,'' he said.

Yesterday's proposal initially focused only on central city businesses, while excluding the planned tertiary upgrades.

However, the exclusion was dropped by Cr Benson-Pope, after Mayor Dave Cull  questioned the rationale of excluding property investors who could also benefit financially from the North Dunedin upgrades.

Cr Jim O'Malley also wanted the university to be covered by the targeted rate, even though it did not pay full rates, in the hope it would be a ''good citizen'' and contribute voluntarily.

The university paid full rates on commercial properties, but only targeted rates - and not the general rate - for properties used for educational purposes.

Cr Lee Vandervis could not vote for the proposal without more information, saying the ''new tax'' was ''ill-considered'' and risked becoming ''an enormously complex can of worms''.

Deputy mayor Chris Staynes agreed with the aim in principle, but was worried the costs involved could be ''too scary'' for businesses.

Cr Benson-Pope said more information from council staff would be presented as part of the consultation process, which would not begin until after annual plan deliberations concluded.

Councillors voted to include the SCP proposal in the annual plan for consultation. Crs Vandervis and Doug Hall voted against the move.


Contributory payments for street upgrades are common in other countries and perhaps even in other towns in NZ. It's a fair suggestion to make that such payments are made in this case too.

Its also common in other countries and perhaps even in other towns in NZ, when Councillors, Council staff continue to make the same errors again and again they are held accountable made to front up and answer.

What an excellent idea! It is not fair for businesses and landlords to benefit from improvements paid for by everyone else's rates. Fairness requires, however, that the reverse must apply. Where businesses are adversely affected by loss of parking and increasing cost of remaining car parks, their rates should be reduced. Since this effect will last for many years before Dunedin people alter their habit of using cars to get to work and to go shopping, a one-off reduction in rates will not be sufficient. I suggest five years should be the starting time to present to affected parties during the consultation process.

If you can't afford it then don't do it, The people of Dunedin need to serious protest on this Council to stop them, they re out of control and think the people of Dunedin have a bottomless pit of money . I read a comment on a Dunedin FB page where the poster said if the same pavers were cleaned and re used it would cost a hell of. a lot less, my question is where do the old pavers go? same place as the Chinese garden stuff? Wake up you council idiots, Dunedin isn't rolling in it. sack the lot except the one with clues which is Cr Lee Vandervis

I hope the corresponding transaction is also put into place. Council believe the $60million will be of huge benefit to traders and property owners. Coupled with the removal of vehicles of course.
The world has more than enough examples where pedestrianisation has caused massive failures for traders. Swanston st in Melbourne is a prime example.
So when it all fails, as it is likely to do, and traders lose business, council should be prepared to repay any trader contributions and buy out all the traders that want to move to where customers can actually get to their business.