Christchurch City Centre Plan

Christchurch City Centre Plan

As we approach a full year since the 4th September 2010 earthquake, Christchurch Mayor, Bob Parker, and the Christchurch City Council have released a draft plan for the Christchurch City Centre.

The plan has taken on board a huge amount of suggestions and ideas that have been put forward by the local community. You can find out more about the announcement of the plan and download the plan itself (a 150 page pdf document that’s just under 8MB) on the Stuff website.

Incidentally, I think we’ve all had enough of destruction photos for a while so I’ve filled this post with photos I took in Christchurch before the earthquake. If you do want to see the damage in Christchurch today, view the red zone video I took a couple of weeks ago.

As expected, the plan is all about a modern city with large green spaces, modern Internet facilities and free parking areas. While this sounds fantastic, am I the only person asking where all the businesses are going to end up?

Mayor Bob Parker on the Christchurch Tram

Mayor Bob Parker on the Christchurch Tram

With so many businesses from the CBD having relocated to areas such as Addington and Hornby, the council is going to have to offer some financial incentives for businesses to move back into the city centre once the rebuild is in full swing. It has suggested that it will do this.

However, where are these businesses going to go exactly? The plan itself says that Christchurch is the gateway to the south island for tourism and business. Also:

Before February 2011 and the earthquake that shutdown the central business district, resulting in job losses and destroying homes and neighbourhoods, Christchurch’s Central City was home to more than 6000 businesses, employing 51,000 people, and annually hosted 1.8 million visitors.

In the plan, the council tells us that there will be:

  • lots of green spaces
  • restrictions on building heights – 6 or 7 stories in the centre and 4 or 5 stories on the fringes
  • a more compact CBD

Don’t get me wrong, that sounds great. And obviously it’s understandable that people wouldn’t be interested in going back to work in a high-rise building. But then again, is height that much of a factor? Or is it more to do with the building’s structure? I’m no engineer but Japan don’t seem to have too many problems with building skyscrapers in their earthquake zones.

A Collins and Harman Building in Lyttelton

A Collins and Harman Building in Lyttelton

The reason I ask is that, if you sum up the affect on the city centre of the above three bullet points, surely that means a massive drop in overall floor space for businesses? Where will the businesses go? One option is to the west in areas that were less affected by the quake but does this mean building into our current green areas? Are we adding more green spaces to the city centre and taking them away from the outskirts?

I don’t really want to take a negative response to this plan. I haven’t read all of the 150 pages but first impressions are really positive. It’ll be great to have a city that will provide a new world standard and show Christchurch as a city of the future …

Funding for the Christchurch CBD Rebuild

Like I said, I’m no engineer and I’ll also add that I’m not exactly ahead of the game when it comes to New Zealand’s financial situation, but  I can’t imagine that New Zealand as a whole and Christchurch in particular is particularly flush for cash at the moment. While we have a great opportunity to clear away the rubble and start building a modern city with an almost clean slate, aren’t we on a bit of a budget?

Christchurch Cathedral Square

Christchurch Cathedral Square

The plan does have a page dedicated to explaining where the funding for the rebuild should come from (page 120 of the document or page 129 if you’re looking at the PDF version):

It is recognised that the success of redeveloping the Central City relies heavily on private sector investment in the replacement of a large proportion of buildings …

… Some of the projects will require private public partnership or joint involvement with the Council and other agencies, while others will act as a catalyst for ongoing investment or action by the private sector or other agencies.

The document also references funds from fundraising incentives that have been set up. Their full list includes:

Private Investment

  • Insurance proceeds
  • Infrastructure rebuild
  • Council facilities

Christchurch City Council

  • Council Annual and Long Term Plans (rates/borrow)

Central Government

  • Central government
  • New Zealand Transport Agency

Other specifically identified funding institutions

  • Department of Internal Affairs (Library)
  • Canterbury Earthquake Heritage Building Fund
  • Christchurch Earthquake Mayoral Relief Fund
  • The Christchurch Earthquake Appeal Trust
  • SPARC – ihi Aotearoa – Sport and Recreation New Zealand

Check out the plan for yourself. If you live in Christchurch and intend on staying here into the future, it’s really worth a good look.

  • I’ve just been discussing this plan on Twitter with a few people and have received some good feedback.

    Nicole Mathewson, a reporter for The Press, pointed out that the average height of existing buildings could be increased, thereby creating a more consistent height across the board.

    Layton of @polarbearfarm (great name huh? He’s the guy to speak to about iPhone apps) referenced a CBRE report that said that pre-quake, 250,000 sqm was leased in an area of roughly 4,000,000 spm. With that in mind, there’s actually plenty of space available so nothing to worry about.

    Thanks for the input guys.