23 Aug 2019

Christchurch red zone park gets green light

From Checkpoint, 5:43 pm on 23 August 2019

A plan for a green corridor cutting through Christchurch's red zone all the way to the coast has been given the green light.

Dubbed the Greenprint, the plan supports the regeneration of the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor, which housed more than 5000 residents before the devastating 2010 and 2011 earthquakes.

The residential red zone has been uninhabitable since the earthquakes, and nature has slowly taken over the vast open space, with weeds growing through roads and the addition of plenty of bird life.

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Avon Ōtākaro Network spokesperson Evan Smith Photo: Rebecca O'Sullivan

The Avon Ōtakaro Network has advocated for a vision for the red zone for eight years.

It's spokesperson Evan Smith said the announcement was a milestone moment in Christchurch's rebuild.

"We were just thinking the other day that we've had over 100 meetings of our strategic steering group to get to this point. It has been a long slow hog to get to this point, but it's been worth it, in the end, to get to this point," Mr Smith said.

"It is actually returning the land to what it wants to be, and it is a multi-purpose river park that runs from city to sea."

Dr Woods warning that people would need to be patient. 

"The plan is about connecting communities with nature and with new possibilities. While this is a great step towards regeneration of the area, people must respect that this is an inter-generational plan that will involve transformation over time," she said.

Mr Smith said he was happy to wait and said some projects were already underway.

"I'm happy to see it as inter-generational, but things have started already. We have got a transitional river trail that runs out from the city right out to New Brighton," he said.

Dr Woods also addressed concerns that the proposal for the rowing lake appeared to have fallen by the wayside.

"It is not included in this plan. For me, I was convinced by the evidence that was in the documents that were given to me that there are still appropriate and reasonable questions that need to be answered."

Rebuild agency Regenerate Christchurch did not approve of a rowing lake due to environmental reasons.

Dr Woods said a lake would need to go through a consenting process for examination.

Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel said people would still get a say on how the green spaces would look.

"This is about everything all coming together so our focus as council will be very much be on that green spine and engaging the community on how that is going to be developed," Ms Dalziel said.

In the past, Regenerate Christchurch had come under pressure for the time it had taken to deliver the plan.

It's chief executive Ivan Iafeta said the agency had to consult widely and squeeze many ideas into a single vision.

"The starting point for us was understanding from a technical perspective what had happened to 600ha of land, and then to engage with the community to understand what their goals and aspirations were to develop the vision," Mr Iafeta said. 

"Once we had whittled down some 5000 ideas into broad land-use categories, we then had to consider various land-use combinations and assess those to determine which set of combinations achieve the vision."

With this plan now approved, Dr Woods could now turn her attention to the much-awaited multi-use arena, but she said she was still waiting on the final business case from the Christchurch City Council.