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Woolsack Lane Upgrade Next On The List

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Woolsack Lane Upgrade Next On The List

Woolsack Lane between Hereford and Cashel streets is the latest of Christchurch's lanes to attract redevelopment as part of the Christchurch City Council's Central City Lanes Plan.

The lane has been identified as having the potential to develop into a thriving destination similar to the successful South of Lichfield (SOL) and Poplar Lane areas. Work is expected to start on Stage 1, the Cashel Street end, in the next few months.

The historic Occidental Hotel, at the Hereford Street end, is a high priority and the Christchurch City Council Woolsack Lane project team is working closely with owner Russell Glynn to support protection of one of the city's landmark buildings.

The Occidental Hotel, built in 1861 is strongly connected with Christchurch's social history. It is well-known for its links with the Christchurch Club, where members roomed while wives and children stayed at the hotel.

Due to Woolsack Lane Stage 1 project budget constraints, uncertainty around the Occidental Hotel and future developments at the Hereford end of the lane, the project team's strategy for Stage 1 is focusing on immediate needs, including lighting to support safety, road maintenance and drainage.

Stage 2 may include the upgrade at the Hereford end along with other project initiatives currently being considered such as paving, seating and areas for cafes.

To support Stage 1 developments, the Council has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Les Mills Christchurch, which has a new gymnasium at the Cashel Street end. The MOU records the intentions of both the Council and company in relation to future development of the area. Les Mills has already revised the design of its new building to have more transparency at ground level along the lane.

The Council is in continuing dialogue with Mr Glynn who is uncertain of his plans for the hotel. However, the Council has offered free fire/structure/condition reports and to fast track any heritage grant applications which would meet 40% of refurbishment costs.

As a possible future use, New Zealand Aotearoa Adolescent Health and Development (NZAAHD) has applied for community funding to development the Occidental as emergency/transition housing for young people aged 16-24 years. The Ministry of Youth Development has also expressed an interest in using the building to accommodate young people on the independent youth benefit, with a programme to teach living skills.

The Council team also is working to source a suitable tenant and develop a similar MOU to support lane maintenance work at the Hereford end of the lane.

The overall aim for Woolsack Lane and the surrounding area is to build a mixed use-use residential/commercial precinct that has a successful combination of old and new, promoting healthy urban living.

Project manager Sarah Hawkey says the existing external spaces in the lane lend themselves to cafes/bars.

"An influx of workers from the new IRD building and future links through lanes to Manchester Street would make the lane an exciting destination for eating out and entertainment.

"It's close proximity to the open greenspace of Latimer Square is also an advantage," she said. .

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