Garden city plan identifies main sites

The blueprint for the rebuilding of the Christchurch city  centre, with major projects...
The blueprint for the rebuilding of the Christchurch city centre, with major projects highlighted. Graphic by Animation Research Ltd.

The much-anticipated blueprint for the Christchurch city centre announced yesterday includes key sites for major facilities.

As well as a covered sports stadium, the plan called for residential development, a 2000-capacity convention centre at a "postcard location" by the Avon River, a huge aquatic and indoor sports facility, a revitalised square with a new central library, and a Ngai Tahu cultural centre.

Shops, restaurants, bars and cafes were expected to line the river's edge, and be integrated into the sports venues, in a push to make the revitalised city "very much like Melbourne", Prime Minister John Key said at the unveiling last night.

It would take minutes to walk from the new city square, to the stadium.

Cycle ways would link Hagley Park to the downtown area.

The blueprint would result in a low-rise city, with a maximum height limit on new buildings of 28m, or up to eight storeys, and would be divided into precincts of health, arts and entertainment, retail, as well as the justice and emergency sectors.

"As a former Cantabrian, I am delighted to see this plan for new development and to know construction will soon be under way to rebuild my old hometown," the prime minister said.

The Christchurch Central Development Unit, set up in April by the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) to plan the CBD rebuilding, was given 100 days to come up with the blueprint.

The city centre was largely destroyed in the magnitude 6.3 earthquake of February 22, 2011, which claimed 185 lives.

Investors and developers had said they were unable to consider any rebuilding plans until they knew the location of the new civic facilities.

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said the recovery plan contained a blueprint for a smaller, greener, central city that would set Christchurch apart from any other urban centre.

"The plan and its implementation are being watched by the rest of the world, which has also been supportive of Christchurch in its time of need," Mr Brownlee said.

"I anticipate a light, airy, college-campus style feel for the home of numerous innovative Christchurch companies and public sector agencies."

Mr Brownlee refused to say how much it might cost, saying only that the Government had allocated $5.5 billion on the earthquake recovery so far and had already spent $2.45 billion.

The Government would be working with about 800 city property owners, and would have the powers under the Cera Act 2011 to compulsorily buy land it needs to make way for key facilities.

Further details on a new hospital, advanced technology hub, and a justice precinct were expected later this year.

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said the plan was a "bold vision".

The blueprint received a positive reception from developers and investors at last night's launch at the city council headquarters.

Christchurch airport head Jim Boult said the new central city would be the envy of similar sized cities throughout the world.

However, there were detractors, with about 250 people attempting to disrupt the launch with a vocal protest outside the council building, with chants including, "fix our homes before the CBD", and "Mr Key, hear our plea, we need a road to recovery".

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