Christchurch CBD vision to be unveiled

Christchurch CBD skyline with cranes in the Red Zone. Photo / Geoff Sloan
Christchurch CBD skyline with cranes in the Red Zone. Photo / Geoff Sloan

Cantabrians who have gone through a long period of uncertainty will today get a sense of the vision for Christchurch's city centre, Prime Minister John Key says.

Mr Key and Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee will this evening release the blueprint for the rebuild of the city centre, which was devastated by last February's deadly earthquake.

The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) in April established a central development unit, which was tasked with coming up with a blueprint for the city in 100 days.

That deadline expired last Friday and the plan will be signed off by Cabinet today.

Mr Key, who has seen the blueprint, told Newstalk ZB he was excited by the plan.

"Cantabrians have gone through a long period of pain and suffering with the earthquakes, and a lot of heartache and uncertainty about where the future of the city will actually lie, despite the fact the Government and the council have said look, 'There's a great vision for this city.'

"But today is an opportunity to show them that vision, get a sense of what the new CBD area would look like and the layout project."

Mr Key said the blueprint addressed some of the problems with the old CBD.

"It was rambling along and not accessible in parts of it, and everyone remembers the square and good bits of nostalgia, but there were bits that weren't working. The city was pretty spread out."

Mr Key said people would see a range of civic assets and important commercial assets "all knitted together very nicely".

The time frame would be the next big challenge.

"There's land that will have to be acquired, buildings that will need to be built and commitments that will need to be made."

The private and public sectors would work together, but it would take some time.

"This will give a sense of clarity for people about where certain assets can and should go."

He told Radio Live that the city would be compact, walkable, green, and exciting.

Cera central development unit director Warwick Isaacs said the blueprint reflected the vision in the council's annual plan but it did have some radical elements.

"I'm very, very excited about it and I think the people of Christchurch will be very excited as well," he told Newstalk ZB.

Cera chief executive Roger Sutton said the overwhelming response would "be really positive".

"I've spoken to a lot of people as we've been developing this plan, from people involved in property through to professional people who think about how you plan cities, and they've all been very excited with what we've got here.

He said the blueprint was only part of the plan to rebuild Christchurch and a lot of work was also being done in the suburbs.

Christchurch mayor Bob Parker said the plan had a sense of urgency.

"I think we sit on a knife-edge. It's been a long time since those devastating quakes, and although we still have big issues to resolve in the community around insurance and EQC, what we need to get rolling really is the future of the city,'' he told Radio New Zealand.

"We can't wait any longer. We're losing investment, and investment is going to be crucial to us building a future."

Labour's Christchurch-east MP Lianne Dalziel told Newstalk ZB she was reassuring people the central city rebuild would not detract from a rebuild of the outlying areas of Christchurch.

"Today is an important day for the city of Christchurch as a whole, but I also think that it's important that the needs of those who are still suffering are kept at the fore as well."

Christchurch property owners' group Core spokesman Ernest Duval told Radio New Zealand it was crucial people worked with whatever was decided.

"Whatever it is, we should attempt to embrace it and work together as a community because it is really the first step in the direction that we need to go as a city for generations to come."

Central City Business Association head Antony Gough, who has seen the "impressive" plan, told Radio New Zealand the Government had not shied away from buying land to put facilities where they were best suited.

Mr Brownlee told TVNZ's Q + A programme yesterday that the rebuild plan was about giving shape to the new city.

"And then in coming months, you'll see the Government be able to make announcements about things like the hospital, the advanced technology hub - what we're calling the justice precinct, etc."

A mix of public and private sector would be paying for the plan, he said.

"I think it's going to be seen as a fairly exciting plan."

- Newstalk ZB

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