Kurt Bayer

Kurt Bayer is an APNZ reporter based in Christchurch.

Christchurch rebuild plan revealed

A covered sports stadium is the showpiece inclusion in the rebuild blueprint for earthquake-damaged Christchurch city centre announced today.

The much-anticipated blueprint includes 12 key sites for major facilities, including a new 2000-capacity convention centre at a "postcard location" by the Avon River, a huge aquatic and indoor sports facility, revitalised square with a new central library, and Ngai Tahu cultural centre.

Shops, restaurants, bars and cafes are expected to line the picturesque river's edge, as well as the sports stadiums, in a push to make the revitalised city "very much like Melbourne", according to Prime Minister John Key.

SEE THE FULL 120-PAGE BLUEPRINT HERE

The compact centre of a rebuilt Garden City, designed to "solve the problem of too much land, not enough demand", will rise from a sweeping space flanked by the twisting Avon and a leafy, bright "college-campus style" frame.

It will take minutes to walk from the new city square, to the 35,000-seat covered stadium, which will have natural, fixed turf. Cycle ways will link historic Hagley Park to downtown.

The blueprint will result in a low-rise city, with a maximum height limit on new buildings of 28m, or up to eight storeys, and will be divided into precincts of health, arts and entertainment, retail, as well as the justice and emergency sectors.

Mr Key and Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee officially unveiled the highly anticipated blueprint this evening.

"As a former Cantabrian I am delighted to see this plan for new development and to know construction will soon be underway to rebuild my old hometown," Mr Key said.

The Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU), set up in April by the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) to plan the CBD rebuild, was given 100 days to come up with the blueprint.

The city centre was largely destroyed in the magnitude-6.3 earthquake of February 22, 2011, which claimed 185 lives.

Investors and developers say they have been unable to consider any rebuild plans until they knew the location of the new civic facilities. Mr Brownlee said the recovery plan contained a blueprint for a smaller, greener, central city that will set Christchurch apart from any other urban centre.

"The plan and its implementation are being watched by the rest of the world, which has also been supportive of Christchurch in its time of need," Mr Brownlee said.

"I anticipate a light, airy, college-campus style feel for the home of numerous innovative Christchurch companies and public sector agencies."

Mr Brownlee refused to say how much it may cost, saying only that the Government had allocated $5.5 billion on the earthquake recovery so far and had already spent $2.45b.

The Government will be working with around 800 city property owners, and will have the powers under the Cera Act 2011 to compulsorily buy land it needs to make way for key facilities.

Further details on a new hospital, advanced technology hub, and a justice precinct are expected to follow in coming months.

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said the plan was a "bold vision" while the blueprint received rave reviews from developers and investors at tonight's glitzy launch at the city council headquarters.

Millionaire city property owner Antony Gough said the city had been in "uncharted waters" but now had "a chart to lead the way".

Christchurch Airport boss Jim Boult believed the new central city would be the envy of similar sized cities throughout the world.

There were detractors, however, with about 250 people attempting to disrupt the launch with a vocal protest outside the council building, with chants including, 'Fix our homes before the CBD', and 'Mr Key, hear our plea, we need a road to recovery.'

Wider Earthquake Communities' Action Network (WeCan) spokesman Mike Coleman said today marked further evidence of a "corporate recovery" while residents in the eastern city suburbs were being "left to flounder".

"They open up the champagne bottles for the CBD but there's mere drips of water for the plebs in the suburbs."

Lindsay Carswell of the Christchurch Civic Trust welcomed the "bold vision" but questioned whether it would "actually happen."

- APNZ

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