Announcements 'close' on performing-arts precinct land purchases, Court Theatre

Inaugural City Leaders' Forum panellists. From left: Richard Peebles, Lauren Merrit, Will McLellan, Robyn Wallace, ...
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/FAIRFAX NZ

Inaugural City Leaders' Forum panellists. From left: Richard Peebles, Lauren Merrit, Will McLellan, Robyn Wallace, Malcolm Johns, Lianne Dalziel and Nicky Wagner.

Christchurch's mayor and regeneration minister say land negotiations for the city's performing-arts precinct are almost complete.

The pair spoke on a panel at the first City Leaders' Forum at the The Piano on Monday night. The event is part of a series covering the city's regeneration.

Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister Nicky Wagner said she was "close" to making an announcement about the two sites the Government had yet to purchase for the precinct.

Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister Nicky Wagner.
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/FAIRFAX NZ

Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister Nicky Wagner.

Land Information NZ has been in negotiations with the landowners since late last year.

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Mayor Lianne Dalziel said Christchurch City Council had been working closely with potential precinct occupants, "particularly the Court Theatre".

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel.
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/FAIRFAX NZ

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel.

She said theatre staff wanted it to return to the central city and the council wanted them back.

The Court Theatre moved to Addington after its original Arts Centre home was badly damaged in the Canterbury earthquakes.

Dalziel said a car-park building planned for the precinct might be built in a way that allowed it to change use in the future.

Epic innovation precinct co-founder Will McLellan.
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/FAIRFAX NZ

Epic innovation precinct co-founder Will McLellan.

"Car-park buildings may not be forever required."

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Wagner said she was also close to announcing lead contractors for the Metro Sports facility and Convention Centre.

Epic innovation precinct co-founder Will McLellan said he carried "a lot of frustrations" about missed opportunities in the central-city rebuild.

Ministry of Awesome chief awesome officer Lauren Merrit.
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/FAIRFAX NZ

Ministry of Awesome chief awesome officer Lauren Merrit.

He said there had been "some great collaborations and partnerships", but "stronger partnerships could have been built".

"A lot of people talked good and then left."

Lauren Merritt, chief awesome officer at business incubator Ministry of Awesome, said the community missed out on having a say in certain phases of the rebuild – particularly in the innovation precinct.

Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu director of earthquake response and recovery Robyn Wallace.
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/FAIRFAX NZ

Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu director of earthquake response and recovery Robyn Wallace.

"The one thing I think has been missed is the real inclusion of the community in that development."

She said there was communication in the early stages, but that stopped during development.

Dalziel said the Greater Christchurch Regeneration Act, enacted last year, put the community at the heart of development.

Christchurch International Airport chief executive Malcolm Johns.
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/FAIRFAX NZ

Christchurch International Airport chief executive Malcolm Johns.

"I think that's the real benefit of the regeneration plan model."

She said conversations about regeneration did not have to result in everyone agreeing, but they had to inform the community about decisions and why they were made.

Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu director of earthquake response and recovery Robyn Wallace said engaging the community required "a lot of resource".

Property developer Richard Peebles.
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/FAIRFAX NZ

Property developer Richard Peebles.

She said it was an important consideration for Ngai Tahu.

"We are owners in perpetuity; we are not going anywhere."

Christchurch International Airport chief executive Malcolm Johns said the city needed a "central organising theme" for its regeneration.

"But it can't be claustrophobic and it can't be oppressive."

He said surveys showed residents thought the city should be rebuilt the same as it was pre-quakes, but with "extras" added.

"The vast majority of people in Christchurch know what they want their city to be."

Johns said the city's aim was to get "the old heart of Christchurch to fit inside its new skin".

When asked what her vision was for the residential red zone, Wagner said what the development looked like was not "that important" to her, as long as the community was engaged in the process.

Property developer Richard Peebles endorsed the idea of a flatwater facility for rowing and a white-water park.

He said the red zone could be used to get cycleways and walking tracks off roads and developing and selling sections alongside the facilities could help pay for them.

 - Stuff

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