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Millions of dollars are flowing into Christchurch’s Linwood Village less than a month after a liquor ban designed to combat anti-social behaviour in the area came into effect.
Williams Corporation on Monday broke ground on a $3.5 million mixed commercial and residential development on the corner of Worcester St and Stanmore Rd.
Known as Linwood Village Corner, the building will feature five ground-floor shops, five two-bedroom units on the first floor, and 11 car parks each fitted out with a charge point for electric cars.
“As developers we’re often first to knock the [city] council but in this instance they’ve made a real effort with the liquor ban and other enhancements in the area to encourage development,” Blair Chappell said.
Chappell, along with his business partner and fellow managing director of Williams Corporation, Matthew Horncastle, see potential in Linwood and believes their development will help the area thrive.
Horncastle said without the liquor ban and other improvements, including cobbled footpaths and changes to the Rapanui-Shag Rock Cycleway, the construction company would have been reluctant to invest in the area.
The two-storey building would be finished by Christmas. It had yet to be tenanted, but Horncastle said they would look for “salt of the earth” businesses like a fish and chip shop and a pharmacy.
Before the temporary six-month liquor ban was brought into effect on December 20, businesses in the village had complained of harassment and abuse and police had experienced a 50 per cent spike in call-outs.
Chappell said he had noticed an improvement since the ban was introduced. Both he and Horncastle supported the restriction becoming permanent to help further business confidence in the area.
“If we come here and we don’t feel right, we’re not going to spend money. You’ve got to walk through and you’ve got to be able to smell the progress,” Horncastle said.
Supervalue owner Choy Ming Lee said customers used to complain about being harassed by people drinking and loitering outside his Stanmore Rd store.
“We used to get a lot of beggars and homeless who would drink out there. We don’t get it as much now,” Lee said, adding he was “all for [the ban] and believed the council should “keep it going”.
Central ward councillor Deon Swiggs said a permanent alcohol ban would require consultation with the community, but initial responses showed it was having the desired effect.
He said the temporary ban had made the area more attractive, both for visitors and for investors, and Linwood Village had great potential.
Since the devastation wrought by the earthquakes, the area around the village has remained largely undeveloped, despite a 2012 Linwood Village Master Plan conceived by the council.
Last year, a community development group with deep roots in the area, Te Whare Roimata, was brought on board to help develop a regeneration plan for the area alongside the council and Regenerate Christchurch.
Horncastle said he liked the affordability, density and amenities on offer in the Linwood area. Williams Corporation had recently built 10 townhouses in the suburb.
“I think it’s got a lot of potential, you’re so close to the city centre where they’re spending $35 billion so there’s definitely a flow-on effect,” he said.
The police and a deputation of homeless people both supported the temporary liquor ban, which covered all streets and public places bounded by Fitzgerald Ave, Armagh St, England St and Hereford St.
Police area community service manager Senior Sergeant Stephen McDaniel said a low-key approach had been taken to enforcing the liquor ban, with police issuing warnings and telling people it was in place.
“We don’t want to be the hard hand of the law. We want public buy-in as well,” he said.
McDaniel said police would monitor the effectiveness of the ban and would support making it permanent if the evidence showed it worked.
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