The site of Cathedral Square in Christchurch temporarily transformed into an urban park


A prominent vacant site in Christchurch’s Cathedral Square has been temporarily transformed into an urban park by its owner, Surja Yang, of Emerald Development Limited, to make the area more welcoming to visitors.

Christchurch City Council’s Urban Design, Regeneration and Heritage Manager, Carolyn Ingles, advises “the transformation that has taken place at 9 Cathedral Square is a great example of how vacant sites can be used to help to support the regeneration of the town until permanent development takes place.

“The site at the corner of Colombo and Hereford Streets used to be unappealing, but now it’s a welcoming and interesting space.”

Surja Yang partnered with the Council on a low-cost transformation of the site so that it would be attractive and provide a pleasant space for Central City visitors, workers and residents.

Yang paid to have the site cleaned up and put in hard landscaping, while the Council moved some of its planters, seating and artwork to the site to encourage its use as a temporary addition to the public realm of the city.

Yang said he was delighted with the end result, noting that “Cathedral Square is the heart of the city, but since the earthquakes it has been surrounded by damaged buildings and palisades. Our intention is to encourage people to walk through the square and bring it to life.

“We have plans to build on the site but in the meantime we want it to be attractive in order to support the central city and the opening of the Te Pae Christchurch Convention Center and the restored old post office building. later this year.”

Ingles says the Council is keen to help other landowners find good short-term uses for their land until development can begin.

“Residents and business owners have told us that vacant sites, especially neglected ones, negatively impact people’s perceptions and discourage people from visiting or investing in an area,” adds Ingles. .

“Our central city continues its regeneration journey and we must do everything we can to encourage new investment. As a Council, we cannot force owners of vacant land to develop it. However, we are very keen to support them in ongoing development. When the timing or financial conditions are not right, owners such as Mr. Yang, Anthony Gough, Ngai Tahu Property and public bodies such as Ōtākaro Limited, have invested in improving the site’s appearance.

“These sites now contribute to the experience of our central city, rather than detract from it.”

If you have a vacant site and would like advice and assistance on future development options, or cost-effective, low-maintenance ways to improve it, information is available at

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