20,000 people for city centre?

21:59, Sep 01 2013

The Government wants 20,000 residents living in Christchurch's inner city - and is formulating a plan to achieve it.

The Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU) is drafting the Residential Chapter, which also proposes a new community of 1500 to 2000 people living around a central park and playgrounds within the East Frame.

It echoes Mayor Bob Parker's pre-quake Urban Development Strategy, in which he envisaged 12,000 to 16,000 housing units and apartments that would have attracted up to 30,000 residents.

Parker said 20,000 inner-city residents was a "modest target" and "very, very achievable".

Before the quakes, 7000 to 8000 people lived in the central city.

CCDU director Warwick Isaacs said there were "exciting opportunities" to establish a new era of residential living between Fitzgerald, Moorhouse, Bealey and Deans avenues.

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Those living by the East Frame, bordered by Madras, Manchester, Tuam and Kilmore streets, could become a community.

"While they have caused a lot of destruction, the earthquakes have also provided a chance to create a world-class new central city, and a big part of that is making it a great place to live," Isaacs said.

The plan due for public consultation at the end of the year includes a range of dwellings within easy walking distance of work, inner-city attractions and nightlife.

The long-term goal is to have more than 20,000 people living in the central city, with larger and taller buildings, largely private-sector led, in particular zones.

Changes would be made to the District Plan Living Zones based on the Christchurch City Council's review earlier this year, as well as initiatives aimed at stimulating residential activity in the central city.

Parker said there was potential to expand the plan to between Linwood and Fitzgerald avenues too.

He and his wife, Joanna Nicholls-Parker, live in a central-city warehouse they call the "bunker", which withstood the quakes, but now stands alone among construction and red-zoned sites.

The only thing missing was a community, Parker said.

Central-city living was a "newish" concept in New Zealand, but it was a lower maintenance, easy way of living, he said.

"It's where I choose to live. I'm certainly not moving out.

"It is, I am utterly convinced, going to be the best place to live in Christchurch in time to come."

Residents spoken to by The Press were positive about the concept, and the biggest concern was noise.

Gerard Smyth has lived in Kilmore St, near the planned East Frame, for 15 years and said it was an "absolutely delightful" place to live.

The only "stumbling block" was the noise of cars, which "kills community".

"If you want 20,000 people living in the central city, it has to be pleasant, and the noise of the one-way streets kills the pleasantness stone dead."

While enjoying an afternoon with his young family in the CBD yesterday, Brendan Reilly recalled complaints from residents new to Auckland's Viaduct Harbour about inner-city noise.

"If they want to get people back into the CBD, that is fantastic, but I, for one, would not want to live in that noisy environment."

It was important to have a vibrant and sociable city, but he did not want to live "two floors above that".

His wife, Megan, generally supported the plans, saying some families would see the appeal of living close to work and saving on transport costs.

Harewood resident Leanne Mirfin said she would like to move to the inner city once her children left home, to be nearer the action.

The Press