Opt for the do-able

04:10, Aug 27 2011
Sir Richard Leese was leader of the Manchester City Council when the city was devastated by an IRA bombing in 1996 (left). Right - the collapsed CTV building in Christchurch.
Sir Richard Leese was leader of the Manchester City Council when the city was devastated by an IRA bombing in 1996 (left). Right - the collapsed CTV building in Christchurch.

The Avon River is quake-hit Christchurch's biggest asset, an international landscape architect says.

Sam Martin, a former Christchurch resident who now lives in London, told attendees at the Christchurch City Council's international speaker series that the city needed to make better use of the river.

"If you look at it in terms of an asset, it's the biggest asset that the city has...it's not just a cute little river, that's doing it an injustice."

Sir Richard Leese, leader of the Manchester City Council when the city was devastated by an IRA bombing in 1996.
Sir Richard Leese, leader of the Manchester City Council when the city was devastated by an IRA bombing in 1996.

Martin said the council's plans for an Avon River park could attract eco-tourists to the city, while the section of river in the central city needed to be "more about people and less about nature".

He said residents should be allowed back into Cathedral Sqaure as soon as possible so they could come to terms with the rebuilding process.

Earlier, Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese urged the council to ensure its rebuilding plan was not just popular but also achievable.

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Leese, who led the rebuild of Manchester after it was devastated by an IRA car-bomb in 1996, said the council's number one priority after the bombing was to get the city functioning again.

"We had to get people back to work as soon as possible, because jobs were vital to the city's success."
Leese said Christchurch officials needed to ensure that the final rebuilding plan for the city was not simply popular, but could actually be achieved.

"The most popular ideas for our rebuild were the least deliverable: in fact, the most popular one was impossible to achieve."

Over 150 people were present at the first session of the four-day event.

Mayor Bob Parker said the start of the series was a "very exciting day" for the city."It is inspirational to know that other communities and people have faced the same sort of problems as we face now."

Parker said residents needed to provide constructive feedback during the consultation period, rather than dismissing ideas in the plan.

"We should celebrate ideas, not destroy them: we can modify them, but let's add to the process, not subtract from it."

The speakers series runs until Tuesday.

The Press