Ideas for central Christchurch rebuilding revealed

9:42 am on 12 August 2011

Christchurch has unveiled a $2 billion plan to re-create the central city as a green, people-friendly, low-rise zone inside a garden.

The Christchurch City Council is developing the plan to guide the rebuilding of the central city that was badly damaged in the 22 February earthquake. Most of the central city remains cordoned off and half of the buildings are expected to be demolished.

At least 100,000 suggestions were submitted by the public though the 'Share an Idea' campaign. They have been incorporated into the draft plan, to be publicly released for a month-long consultation period on Tuesday.

Key elements include a light rail system linking the University of Canterbury and the central city, a low-rise and compact central business district and a metro sports complex that would include an aquatic centre.

A temporary tourist centre that could open next year is also proposed, while a suggested Avon River park running the length of the central city to Hagley Park could be ready as early as 2013.

Mayor Bob Parker says the plan also includes a proposal for an $8 million earthquake memorial to the 181 people who died on 22 February.

Mr Parker says it has about half of the $2 billion a fully implemented plan would cost. The money would spent over the next 10 years.

The council is looking at underwriting mortgages for people who buy homes in the redeveloped inner-city. Mr Parker says people sometimes have to provide deposits of up to 50% for mortgages on apartments. By working with the financial institutions the council could help to reduce the amount of deposit required, he says.

The council was criticised for not making the draft plan available before the meeting, but Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said it had tried to act in the public interest by releasing only the ratified version of the draft.

Christchurch architect Di Lucas said the plan should include plenty of public transport and there should be a focus on residential villages.

Business owner Antony Gough believes rebuilding the business hub should be the priority and something needs to be done to try to bring the city back to life. "To encourage people to come here, we need a heart."

Businessman favours satellite city

A Canterbury businessman says a satellite town out of Christchurch could be a better option than just a rebuild of the current CBD.

Matthew Carpenter, of the Canterbury Business Recovery Network, says the council needs to look beyond sustainability.

He says the city should not be rebuilt on land that has proven to severely damage buildings during the September and February quakes.

Mr Carpenter says a satellite town in greater Canterbury could be an option where land is more stable.