Brownlee denies 'doughnut effect' in Christchurch

Gerry Brownlee
Gerry Brownlee
Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee says suggestions of a "doughnut" effect in inner city Christchurch - with new developments on the fringes but few in the centre - are wide of the mark.

Mr Brownlee today confirmed 1100 staff from 13 government agencies would return to offices in three new privately owned buildings in the central business district by 2016.

"This is in addition to 200 Inland Revenue staff already working in the Mid City Building above Ballantynes, and will soon be followed by another 400 Government staff moving into another new building in the city," Mr Brownlee said.

The leases to accommodate 1100 staff announced today represented a $170 million investment in Christchurch over the next 20 years, "so this is a significant commitment to the city's prosperity".

"These buildings are in or on the edge of the Retail Precinct, meaning an influx of 1100 people into shops and food outlets in the city each day… the notion of a doughnut effect in the Christchurch CBD – with new developments on the fringes but few buildings in the centre – is being rapidly dispelled."

Many of the public servants to return to the CBD are to be accommodated in the yet to built Cashel Square development.

BNZ bank today also announced it would accommodate 200 of its staff in the complex.

BNZ Chief Executive Anthony Healy said the bank made a commitment in 2011 to the city and its customers to "to get back into the heart of the Christchurch central business district as soon as it was possible".

"The announcement today of this significant investment for BNZ is a fulfilment of that promise."

Meanwhile, Labour's state services spokeswoman Maryan Street said the Government's programme for relocating public services in the CBD "raises concerns about what will be cut to pay for it".

While the plan to move staff back into the CBD was a good idea, Ms Street said State Services Minister Jonathan Coleman had recently confirmed there would be no new money to fund the move and agencies would have to take the costs out of their baseline budgets by reprioritising money.

"We all know that reprioritising means cutting. So what will be cut?."

- Adam Bennett of the New Zealand Herald

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