Christchurch blueprint unveiled today
SAM SACHDEVA AND FRANCESCA LEE AND DANYA LEVY
Prime Minister John Key says Christchurch's new central business district will be a ''very livable'' compact city centre with distinct precincts.
Key and Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee will unveil a blueprint for central Christchurch, developed by the Christchurch Central Development Unit, at 6pm today.
Full details, including a map and outline of the key projects, will be available on press.co.nz from 6pm.
The unit was formed by the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority in April to determine the location of key projects, including a new convention centre and sports stadium.
Key today said he was confident the unit, the Christchurch City Council, the Government, engineers and stakeholders had got the vision for Christchurch right.
''I'm quite excited about what I see,'' he told TVNZ's Breakfast programme.
''Because you are starting from base zero, you've got the capacity to do what most cities don't do.''
The blueprint retained Christchurch's green, garden city feel and provided lots of pedestrian areas.
''There are various precincts and so they are really trying to make sure that things like the stadium and high-performance sport and health are all in their own precincts but very much within the CBD broader area,'' he said.
''So it will be a very livable city.''
The blueprint is expected to kickstart the rebuild as investors and developers plan around the location of new major facilities.
Brownlee yesterday said the plan would include spending by the Government to encourage the private sector to invest in the rebuild.
The Government has already spent $5.5 billion on the rebuild and Brownlee said taxpayers could have to fund a further $7b.
Key said that was a worse-case scenario.
The Government would ''step up'' and provide additional funding and there would also be funding from the council and private sector.
''If it is the health precinct and the hospital, that would fall pretty squarely on the Government,'' he said.
''Others are more debatable. It will depend on what civic assets [Cantabrians] want.''
Debate would ''rage for some time'' on whether there should be a covered stadium, he said.
''My own personal view is that it should, given if you take a 100-year view of Christchurch and their love of sport.''
He said there was still a lot of frustration for people with homes in the technical category 3 zone where further liquefaction was considered possible and specific geotechnical investigations and foundation designs were required.
A rally of TC3 homeowners is expected to be held this afternoon.
Key said progress was being made.
''They have our 100 per cent support, but I understand the issues they are going through and we're doing everything we can to speed that up,'' he said.
'Biggest moment' since September 2010 quake
Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce chief executive Peter Townsend said the unveiling was the biggest moment since the September 2010 earthquake and had the capacity to "re-energise" the city.
He said the plan needed to appeal to investors and developers, who were crucial to the rebuild's success.
"This is about the people who drive investment, and it's important the blueprint is attractive to them," he said.
Central City Business Association manager Paul Lonsdale predicted the blueprint would stimulate growth, with local and central government leading the way.
Christchurch Central National MP Nicky Wagner said she was excited about the plan and felt it would be good for the city.
Christchurch Green Party MP Eugenie Sage said she hoped "generous" provisions would be made for the Avon-Otakaro Network park proposed for land along the Avon River's banks, given public support for it.
Mayor Bob Parker said the plan was crucial for the city.
He told TVNZ's Q+A programme yesterday that the announcement would be followed by details in coming months.
"Things like the hospital, the advanced technology hub and what we're calling the justice precinct,'' he said.
"They are very big public assets that are also places of considerable employment, and so that is a pretty significant step in letting other investors know that actually there is going to be a dynamic here that works."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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