Is Hagley Park the answer to the hospital’s parking crisis?

The solution to Christchurch Hospital’s car parking crisis could be Hagley Park.

The Star has learned, turning an area of Hospital Corner across the road from the hospital is a possibility and has been discussed informally by the Canterbury District Health Board.

The parking situation at the hospital is in chaos, brought on by the central city rebuild and ongoing road works which take more off-street parking.

Health board member Jo Kane said more parking was urgently needed. Hagley Park was an ideal location.

She said the health board had discussed it informally but had not taken it further.

“The only issue was it would leave us with nowhere to land the rescue helicopters,” she said.

The CDHB has set aside land on Antigua St for a parking building, but it cannot be cleared until hospital services there can be moved to new buildings. That is set to take about three years.

CDHB chief executive David Meates said parking at Hagley Park had been discussed but was “not an option” being formally considered. He would not give his view on the idea.

A Development Christchurch report in January found up to 2000 extra car parks would be needed long-term, and closer to 3000 during the hospital rebuild.

Using Hagley Park for car parking is likely to be a contentious issue.

The Star asked Mayor Lianne Dalziel what she thought of the idea.

But she did not answer the question, saying only it had not been raised in any formal discussions with her, and it was not something she was currently considering.

Hands Off Hagley, the group which fought against the cricket oval in the park, says the idea to use it for temporary car parking had merit.

Spokesman Martin Meehan said he would be open to seeing it used, so long as it was public parking, only for a set period of time, and had strict safeguards around it.

“The cricket was a permanent acquisition, whereas this is temporary and for the greater good. So I wouldn’t be out there with placards,” he said.

Part of Hagley Park was used temporarily for hospital car parking after the February 22, 2011, earthquake, but that land is now part of the Hagley Oval development.

Mr Meehan said the city council spent $1.2m upgrading the Hospital Corner sports fields last year, and he was worried that would be wasted.

“Logic would say yes, it’s an ideal spot to use. But for goodness sake, where was the planning around parking? This should never have been allowed to happen,” he said.

A Government Act has strict rules around how Hagley Park can be developed, and says the city council cannot “appropriate” any part of the park for car parking without consent from the Minister of Conservation.

But a spokeswoman for Minister of Conservation Maggie Barry said her advice was that the proposal would be classed “temporary use,” so it would not require the minister’s consent.

 OPINION: From the Editor’s Desk
Editor-in-chief Barry Clarke

It’s a no brainer to use Hagley Park for temporary car parking to alleviate the massive issues at Christchurch Hospital.

Why the powers that be haven’t put that into action is surprising.
On page 1 today we canvass those for against the idea, and surprisingly Hands Off Hagley – the group that tried to stop the cricket stadium – supports the idea.
Finding a car park if you’re visiting the hospital is diabolical, and it is going to get worse as the rebuild picks up more pace.
So it seems totally logical to tarseal a reasonable area of Hagley Park’s hospital corner, put in say 120min parks for people visiting the hospital and permanent parking (for hospital staff).
When the parking buildings are finished in the area the tarseal can be ripped up and the park replanted with grass and restored to it’s former glory.
Pretty simple in my view.
– Barry Clarke