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Urban leader: Issue 77


Merry Christmas! This regular newsletter contains interesting information to help you champion good urban design in New Zealand.

In this issue we have:

From recovery to regeneration: changes in urban development arrangements in Christchurch

Five years since the Canterbury earthquakes devastated Christchurch, the rebuild is moving from a phase of recovery to one of regeneration. New arrangements announced by the Government will effect urban development in the city during this next phase.

Since the earthquakes the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) has facilitated, lead, and coordinated the recovery effort. To reflect the new phase of the rebuild, CERA will be disestablished in April 2016 and responsibility for the Christchurch rebuild will transfer to other organisations. This will begin the transition of central government slowly stepping away from the Christchurch rebuild to allow Christchurch City Council to take its place.

In October, CERA published the Transition Recovery Plan, Greater Christchurch Earthquake Recovery: Transition to Regeneration. This plan outlines the key elements of the new arrangements in Christchurch over the next 5 years to 2021.

Regenerate Christchurch

The Transition Plan introduces Regenerate Christchurch, a partnership between Christchurch City Council and central government (joint Crown-Council entity). Its structure will be designed to enable local leadership to gradually take over the Christchurch rebuild so regeneration is owned by the Christchurch community. This reflects the Transition Recovery Plan’s key message that ‘Growing a city is about building community as much as it is about physical buildings and infrastructure.’

To achieve this, Regenerate Christchurch will ensure community engagement in decision-making. Regenerate Christchurch’s efforts will primarily focus on the city centre, the residential red zone, and New Brighton.

The transition from recovery to regeneration will be underpinned by new legislation. The Greater Christchurch Regeneration Bill will replace the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act 2011 (CER Act) in April 2016. The Greater Christchurch Regeneration Bill defines regeneration as including both urban renewal and development. The new area covered by the proposed Bill includes Christchurch City and the Lyttelton Basin, the urban areas of Selwyn and Waimakariri Districts, and adjacent coastal marine areas. 

Regenerate Christchurch will continue to implement the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan (CCRP) which was developed with a high level of public consultation, including the successful ‘Share an Idea’ campaign.

To ensure progress is on the right track, Regenerate Christchurch will also monitor progress and provide independent advice to the Council and Ministers. Over the next 5 years, local capability and capacity will need to develop as central government moves into more of a support role. By 2021, it is expected that Regenerate Christchurch will be fully owned and funded by Christchurch City Council as a Council Controlled Organisation.

New Crown company

The Bill proposes a new Crown company be established to deliver ongoing recovery functions and key public projects. This company is proposed to take over from CERA’s Christchurch Central Development Unit, which has been responsible for development of the central city rebuild projects. It will be completely Crown owned and funded. The Company will include overseeing the future sale of Crown-owned land in Christchurch and will complete the Government-led ‘anchor projects’.

The anchor projects are designed to give the inner city rebuild momentum. These include projects such as the Avon River Precinct which is being substantially redesigned and rebuilt as a vibrant urban waterfront. Other anchor projects include the Convention Centre Precinct, the East Frame, and the public spaces within the Health Precinct, Innovation Precinct, and South Frame.

View a map of these projects

While the Crown is developing the delivery agency, Christchurch City Council will be establishing Development Christchurch Ltd. This new entity will enable a more effective and efficient consent approvals process for developers and attract private sector investment to Christchurch.

Find out more about the new arrangements for Christchurch

Christchurch news

A new 135km walking track has opened in Christchurch. The 'Christchurch 360 trail', has eight stages each approximately 17km long, which encircle the city. The track showcases the diversity of the city, featuring natural, historical, architectural and cultural aspects of Christchurch, as it winds through wetlands, coastal areas, the Port Hills and alongside the Waimakariri River.

Legislation has recently been introduced to Parliament to enable approximately 40 hectares of the Riccarton Racecourse in Christchurch to be developed for housing. The Riccarton Racecourse development proposal involves building at least 600 new houses on the site, of which at least 30 per cent will be required to be priced below the Government’s KiwiSaver HomeStart threshold of $450,000.

Progress on the Christchurch Replacement District Plan continues. The hearings panel has heard submissions on eight of the 12 Stage 1 proposals and has released 10 decisions. The decisions are binding on the Council and may only be appealed on legal grounds. The panel held hearings on Stage 2 proposals including the Commercial and Industrial proposals, pre-hearing meetings on the Subdivision and Specific Purpose Zone (Burwood landfill, Flatland recovery) proposals, and mediation sessions on the Papakainga housing proposal. In all, the panel will hear evidence on 16 Stage 2 proposals until the end of December.

New legislation has been introduced to Parliament to provide much-needed clarity and certainty for determining where the legal property boundaries are on land that has dramatically moved as a consequence of the Canterbury earthquakes in 2010 and 2011. The Canterbury Property Boundaries and Related Matters Bill clarifies the law on locating legal property boundaries, and provides for guidelines to help with boundary determinations in greater Christchurch. This means all surveyors can apply the new boundaries with greater confidence and with certainty.

Auckland news

The old Nelson Street motorway off-ramp has opened to the public as part of the Nelson Street Cycleway. The off-ramp was transformed into a shared path as part of a network of cycleways being delivered in partnership by the NZ Transport Agency, Auckland Council, and Auckland Transport. The Nelson Street Cycleway links Upper Queen Street to Quay Street via the disused off-ramp. The cycle route will also cater for walkers and connect to the northwestern and Grafton Gully cycleways, providing easier and safer access to and from the city centre.

Progress on the proposed Auckland Unitary Plan continues with over 60,000 of the 93,000 submission points being heard. Hearing events continue on schedule, with over 96 per cent of hearing events completed overall. More than 90 per cent of the mediation programme has been completed within the allocated time and 62 per cent of mediation has achieved an outcome. Participation rates (percentage of those notified who actually attended hearing events) have remained stable overall with a slight drop in participation by almost all groups for the regional and district plan topics. Site specific hearings will begin on 12 January 2016 with topics 016 RUB North West and 017 RUB South.

On 19 October, Alice the tunnel boring machine brokethrough after two years of carving the longest road tunnels in the country. The twin Waterview tunnels are 2.4km-long and will each carry three lanes of traffic. They will complete a 48km motorway route between Manukau in the south and Albany north of Auckland via state highways 20, 16 and 18, bypassing central Auckland, State Highway 1, and the Auckland Harbour Bridge, ending Auckland’s reliance on a single motorway spine. The project's urban design initiatives – new recreational facilities, upgraded parks, and greatly improved cycling and walking connections – will unlock the potential of local communities as attractive, desirable places to live.

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Submitted articles may be edited by the Ministry for the Environment.