Christchurch City Revitalisation and Urban Renewal

In the above context, the UDS states that:

The success of the Strategy is tied directly to how well the City and town centres are revitalised ….  Christchurch’s Central City has a special importance in ensuring that Christchurch and Canterbury continue to function and grow as dynamic places in which to live, work and play. As the centre of the region’s economy and gateway to Canterbury, the success of the Central City is linked intrinsically to the success of the region.

The City Council has for some years past produced a significant number of studies relating to the improvement of the land use, transport and environmental components of the Central City.  That work has provided useful inputs for incorporation in the current City Plan, approved in November 2005.  However, steps now need to be taken to review the roles and structure of the Central City over the same time span assumed for the UDS.  A vision of the Council for the Central City is the creation and sustainable development of:

  • A vibrant, exciting, safe and sustainable heart of Christchurch;
  • A heart with a healthy and strong economy, environment, culture and society.

A first task has been to launch a systematic assessment of the redevelopment potential of sites within the Four Avenues, by which broad areas have been identified for potential, comprehensively designed schemes.  Policies and institutional measures are also needed to facilitate site amalgamation and the implementation of projects through joint public–private sector ventures where appropriate.  Results from these should then provide a foundation for structuring the Central City in the form of a number of precincts within a frame of arterial, primary distributor and local access roads, supplemented by improved traffic management systems, efficient public transport services and improved environmental amenities.

It is perceived that, with some upgrading, the existing roads, utility services and land resources in the Central City are likely to have the potential capacity to accommodate substantial additional growth that needs to be configured within the scope of a well-devised, integrated land use and multimode transport strategy for implementation via comprehensively designed urban renewal schemes.  Model tests are needed to evaluate a range of strategic development options against a set of defined objective-based criteria.

A major step forward towards achieving the above objectives has been taken by the Christchurch City Council, which resolved on 4 October 2007, to set up an URBAN REGENERATION AGENCY (URA) to pursue the following objectives:

  • Preparing and implementing comprehensive redevelopment and renewal plans in conjunction with the CCC for target areas which guide future public and private investment in such areas;
  • Acquiring, assembling, selling and leasing real estate to achieve redevelopment and to promote the CCC policy objectives, specifically the Urban Development  Strategy and the Central City Revitalisation Strategy;
  • Performing remediation of brown-field sites or other properties encumbered with environmental and redevelopment obstacles;
  • Facilitating the formation and implementation of public–private sector partnerships and joint ventures in the implementation of relevant projects; and
  • Developing flagship, prestige projects that are exemplars of the Council’s revitalisation objectives and act as catalysts for private investment and development.

In the above context, steps have been taken by the Christchurch City Council to promote a redevelopment project for the former Turners and Growers site (opposite) that forms part of a Central City Edge (CCE) zone.  That zone is intended for a mix of servicing and light industrial uses and also residential development to provide opportunities to assist in the enhancement and revitalisation of the area itself and also, in turn, the wider central city area. The development of a zone with a diverse mixture of activities that attract people into the area is one tool to facilitate rejuvenation. The project is expected to incorporate residential accommodation, a hotel with winery, a retail market area, car parking and a central public space connecting to Lichfield, Tuam and Madras Streets. The project is expected to take 5 – 7 years to bring to fruition.

This illustration portrays one strategically located area within the CCE Zone that offers good potential for an innovative “Flagship” revitalisation project.

It is anticipated that, in due course, the entire CCE zone could be transformed into an inner city precinct of great distinction through the combined efforts of public and private bodies. There also are other areas in the Central City that offer potential for revitalisation and the launching of further flagship projects. For such areas, there should be opportunities for public–private sector joint ventures, for which the current Council’s Community Long Term Plan (LTCCP) sets out clearly defined policy objectives and guidelines. In that context, measures to promote the amalgamation of sites need to be applied in order to achieve comprehensively designed projects of distinction.