Helping hand to keep Christchurch coffee shop trading

Upshot Coffee co-owners Megan Geels and Justin Good were due to submit a resource consent...
Upshot Coffee co-owners Megan Geels and Justin Good were due to submit a resource consent application to the city council to stay open. Photo: Geoff Sloan
A Christchurch coffee outlet is making a bid to the city council to stay open.

Upshot Coffee co-owners Megan Geels and Justin Good said they were in a position to submit a resource consent application last week so they can keep the Heathcote shop trading past the end of the month.

They have been working with a Resource Management Act lawyer and planner on the application to Christchurch City Council.

Geels and Good were thrown a financial lifeline by Redcliffs resident and semi-retired land development consultant, David Fox, who paid $10,000 to help with the application.

“We would have struggled to get as far as we have without David’s support,” said Good.

“He has been so generous with not only his money but also his time and knowledge. We are so lucky.”

Said Fox: “Urban design is about people, property and places. Upshot Coffee is an iconic site with personality, charm and vitality that is loved by the Heathcote community. More than 2000 people have signed a petition to keep them open.”

Good said he thought they had a good case for consent being granted. But they will have to bring the site up to building code.

“I do believe the city plan provides scope for us to be provided consent,” he said.

“The city plan should not be a rigid document that doesn’t allow for changes that support the community.”

Upshot Coffee has been operating with a temporary accommodation licence under the Greater Christchurch Regeneration Act. However, the legislation expired in June, meaning the cafe’s licence also became void that month.

The city council compliance team since agreed to non-enforcement until September 30, allowing the coffee shop to operate until the end of the month.

Upshot Coffee. Photo: Geoff Sloan
Upshot Coffee. Photo: Geoff Sloan
While the resource consent is being processed, the owners are hoping to get an extension of non-enforcement from the city council’s compliance team, meaning the coffee shop could stay open longer. They are currently negotiating for this.

“This is a frustrating process but we are committed to continue operating here in the valley,” said Good.

The Greater Christchurch Regeneration Act was created to allow businesses displaced by the February 22, 2011, earthquake to operate out of temporary homes.

Businesses can apply for specific resource consents relevant to their trading area in order to stay open.

City council head of resource consents John Higgins said about 80 out of the 950 businesses granted temporary accommodation permits after the earthquakes have applied for new resource consents to continue operations.

Upshot Coffee has been operating in Heathcote since 2005.

It has operated at the Heathcote Valley riding school since the earthquake damaged its original premise.

Heathcote residents call Upshot Coffee their community hub and are eager for it to stay.

“The support we have received so far is incredibly humbling,” said Geels.

“It almost brings me to tears.”

Jack Fletcher has lived in Heathcote for three years.

“Local cafes add flavour and culture to a neighbourhood, and Upshot is such a great example of this. It’s super busy there in the weekends with cyclists and local families, and the outlook over the Heathcote horse paddocks is beautiful,’’ he said.

“It’s been such a shame to lose this local gathering place, which contributes so much to the Heathcote vibe.”


 

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