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Draft plan reveals a low-rise and much greener future for Christchurch

Our central city will be strong, vibrant and prosperous, at the heart of a 21st century Christchurch. That’s the mission statement that introduces the newly released 150-page long draft Central City Plan for Christchurch. It features more than 70 projects, from a light rail system to the greening of the civic and cultural heart of Christchurch, that are to be completed over a 20-year period at a cost of $2 billion. 

And in a move that many were expecting, the rebuild looks set to adopt a policy that the central city will be comprised of only low-rise buildings. 

In describing the plan, Mayor Bob Parker said it was a “considered response to our community’s input so far”. 

Close to 106,000 ideas from the community and key stakeholders, which were generated as part of the Share an Idea initiative, were taken into consideration and Parker said the ideas have strongly influenced the key projects in the draft plan. 

“Under the draft plan, the central city will be greener and more attractive; our city will be low-rise with safe, sustainable buildings that look good; there will be a compact central business district supported by incentives, new regulations and well-designed streetscapes; our central city will be accessible to get to and around, supported by great walking and cycling paths, high-quality public transport and a network of green two-way streets.” 

Affordable high-quality inner city housing, together with improved access to schools, new public art and performing arts venues and playgrounds are also on the cards. 

Other highlights include:

* Avon River Park/Papawai Ōtakaro – the banks of the Avon River/ Ōtakaro will be widened and celebrated as Christchurch’s new riverfront park with boardwalks and spaces inviting people down to the water’s edge. Avon River Park/Papawai Ōtakaro will be a pedestrian and cycle friendly area offering a continuous journey through the central city, recognising the river’s rich cultural heritage and the natural environment. 

* Compact CBD – shops and offices will be encouraged to re-locate into a smaller, defined and concentrated area, bounded by Lichfield, Manchester and Kilmore streets and the Avon River/Ōtakaro, to create a more vibrant compact city centre with high-quality, people-friendly streets and spaces. 

* Light rail - a light rail system is planned for Greater Christchurch to support planned significant growth in public transport patronage as the central city redevelops. The short-term route will be developed from the University to the central city, with the strategic long-term goal being a shared regional priority to establish a light rail system linking settlements in Greater Christchurch, including Lyttelton, Rolleston and Rangiora to the central city and key attractions. 

* Metro-sports hub – a new sports hub, home to world-class sporting facilities including a state-of-theart aquatic centre, indoor stadium, a health and fitness centre and elite performance training facilities will be built in the south-eastern corner of the central city. This will provide great facilities for residents and strengthen the city’s reputation as a premier international sporting destination. 

* Christchurch Hospital – redevelopment of Christchurch Hospital will provide the city with modern, safe and resilient tertiary hospital facilities to serve the greater Christchurch region and South Island, and act a catalyst to attract a range of health and medical businesses and research and training institutes to establish a health precinct. 

* Cathedral Square – the greening of the civic and cultural heart of Christchurch will create a great place to visit, meet friends, enjoy a picnic or simply linger and enjoy the sun. 

* Central Library – a new central library will be built to provide the community with a learning hub; a place to celebrate cultural diversity, where everyone can enjoy reading, access digital information and be involved in lifelong learning. 

* Transport choice – the central city will be easier to get to and about.

* Christchurch’s new transport network will be designed to create a safer and more pleasant environment in which to walk, cycle, use public transport or drive and park with ease. 

* Convention Centre – a worldclass convention centre will be developed to attract new and exciting events to the city which will support a thriving hospitality and tourism sector. 

* Neighbourhood Parks – a network of neighbourhood parks and gardens spread throughout the central city will provide inner city residential and mixed use neighbourhoods with a variety of green spaces to enjoy a healthy, active lifestyle. 

According to the council, these changes also provide the framework for new investment in community, business, and in the civic fabric of the city. 

You can check out the plan in full online at centralcityplan.org.nz, in Council’s Services Centres, libraries and recreation and sport centres.  A 12-page public summary will be delivered to every household on the weekend 20 and 21 August. As part of it public outreach, the Central City Plan roadhsow will also visit communities for two weeks from 23 August to 3 September. Material from the roadshow will then be displayed at a drop-in centre at the Christchurch Events Village in Hagley Park from 5 to 11 September. A final date for written comments is 5pm on Friday 16 September. 

And of course, as with any newly released city plan, it’s already been up for debate. On Sunday Parker, together with Labour’s Christchurch central MP Brendon Burns and City Owners Rebuild Entity founder and building owner Ernest Duval shared amny an idea and opinion on the plan on TVNZ’s Q&A show. Watch it here.