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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Share your ideas for city redevelopment

Share your ideas for city redevelopment

Last updated 15:39 06/05/2011
 
Christchurch residents are being urged to share their ideas on the future of the earthquake-hit central city.

The Christchurch City Council yesterday launched its Share an Idea campaign to encourage residents to have their say about how the city centre should look.

It said it was seeking ideas from overseas, with two experts from Danish urban designer Jan Gehl's firm visiting next week to work with council urban design staff on the inner-city redevelopment plan.

Gehl sparked controversy last year with a report to the council that advocated a more pedestrian and cycle-friendly central city.

As part of the Share an Idea campaign, the council will hold a community expo at the CBS Canterbury Arena next weekend where residents can hear guest speakers and put their own ideas.

Submissions can also be made online here.

Mayor Bob Parker said the council's redevelopment plan needed to be "driven from the grassroots".

"The council doesn't have a monopoly on the right answers, and we need to reach out into the community," he said. "It's vital for the future of our city that we get this right."

He said the council would have only eight months to prepare the plan for the central business district – a process that under normal conditions would take two to three years.

In the first three months, the council would collect suggestions from the public before preparing a draft plan by mid-July.

The draft would be presented to the community for written submissions, with hearings in September and October.

A final plan would be presented to the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) for approval in December.

Parker said council staff wanted to be "overwhelmed by ideas".

Residents had an opportunity "not just to make aesthetic changes, but to consider quite deeply" the problems that plagued the central city before the February quake.

He said some common ideas had already emerged, including more green space, greater support for cyclists and developing strong links between the central city and the suburbs.

The two Gehl Architects experts will be in Christchurch next week to work with the council's urban design team on the redevelopment plan for a month.

Gehl was paid $314,000 by the council to find ways to revitalise the inner city and make it more accessible.

His report to the council in February 2010 made 110 recommendations on how the central city could be improved, including reducing parking space, closing streets to cars on Sundays and "spoiling" cyclists with continuous cycle lanes and head starts at intersections.

Most of Gehl's recommendations were rejected by councillors, who decided to focus on only five of the 110 suggestions, including slowing traffic and improving cycle access.

Parker defended the choice of Gehl Architects, saying the firm would bring "global expertise" to the redevelopment plan.

"They have been engaged with a number of metropolitan rebuilds around the world," he said. "It's not about their ideas; it's about their expertise in taking ideas and producing responses."

WHAT WILL NOT CHANGE

The central business district will not be relocated.

More than 50 per cent of buildings within the red zone are likely to have survived the earthquake and will remain in their current form.

The form and function of Hagley Park will remain the same.

The Avon River's course will not be changed.

The grid pattern of inner-city streets will remain, but there may be changes to traffic flows.

- The Press

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