Architect warns of 'doughnut city' risk

21:55, Jun 24 2014
Christchurch CBDf
BOMB SITE: This picture of the Theatre Royal in Gloucester St, taken in July 2013, shows large tracts of empty land remain in the city centre.

Christchurch risks becoming a "doughnut city" with an empty hole in the middle if more is not done to encourage businesses and residents back into the city centre, a visiting housing consultant says.

Aecom associate director of architecture Michael Bilsborough will speak at the Sustainable Housing Summit in Christchurch on Friday about creative options for developing a more sustainable housing market.

Bilsborough said the biggest challenge Christchurch faced was bringing businesses and residents back into the city centre after they moved to the suburbs and new developments on the city's fringe following Canterbury's earthquakes.

Al Nisbet's doughnut city
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"There's a risk that there will be some extended suburban sprawl and we won't be able to achieve this compact city that the [central city recovery] blueprint is aiming for," he said.

The suburbs remained attractive for businesses because of cheaper rents and more accessible parking, meaning Christchurch was in danger of becoming a "doughnut city".

"People need housing now. They're going to go to where that's available now. You could end up with vibrancy on the edge and then this gap in the middle where not much is going on."

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Bilsborough suggested apartment-style living could be an option for Christchurch once residents got over their "reluctance and nervousness" about multi-storey buildings.

Christchurch should have been more proactive about putting in temporary worker accommodation to cater for the thousands of extra workers coming in to join the city's rebuild, putting further pressure on the city's housing stock, he said.

Pockets of high-density housing could be the way to cope with the influx of workers and deal with the city's housing crisis.

"It's a big challenge. There's no quick fixes," Bilsborough said.

The Sustainable Housing Summit will be held at the Christchurch City Council offices on Friday.

It will showcase ideas to make the residential housing market more sustainable economically and socially.

Council housing committee chairman Cr Glenn Livingstone will give the seminar's opening address, while CoDesign Studio chief executive Lucinda Hartley will deliver a keynote address about planning for uncertainty.

The Press