Move on crime may go city-wide

GEORGINA STYLIANOU
Last updated 05:00 28/11/2013

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A new initiative to reduce crime in Phillipstown by using better street lighting and pedestrian-friendly footpaths could be rolled out across Christchurch if successful.

The eastern suburb is the focus of a pilot programme that uses urban design to reduce crime.

Parts of the suburb, and Olliviers Rd in particular, have long been a hot spot for gang-related crime, violence and burglaries. A neighbourhood policing team, established after the earthquakes, has been working with the community to reduce crime.

Using an international system called Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED), recovery authorities and urban planners will work with residents to create a "vibrant suburb" that helps to deter crime.

Canadian criminologist and CPTED expert Greg Saville yesterday hosted a seminar on Safe Growth - a new community-focused programme for planning safer cities - for city organisations.

He praised the work already being done in Christchurch and told The Press the city's opportunity to integrate CPTED planning into the rebuild "is happening now".

"Once the roads are fixed and the buildings are built, it's done and it's hard to go back."

Saville said Re:Start Mall was a "truly inspirational" example of a way to create vibrant spaces.

He provided international examples where communities had taken the lead in cleaning up their neighbourhoods - including the suburb of Hollygrove in New Orleans that averaged between 15 and 24 homicides every year.

The overhaul started with a community walking group that "got people looking at what was going on in their streets".

New bus stops, a community garden centre and street lighting were among the initiatives then rolled out.

This year there had been four homicides so far, Saville said, which is "a lot better than 24".

One person asked about the "smell of poo that often wafts down several streets in Phillipstown" and what effect that could have on the area.

The issue would need to be fixed as soon as possible, Saville said, because "who would care about an area that smelt like that?"

Council community and safety manager Phil Shaw said the Phillipstown pilot would be "people-driven".

Community advisers would identify problem areas - including certain streets or hot spots for anti-social behaviour - and a plan would be developed.

Christchurch Central Development Unit staff are also using CPTED in the design of the central city's eastern frame and other anchor projects.

A maximum width of green space between residential developments, maximum shrubbery heights, no corners and 24/7 lighting are strategies likely to be used.

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- The Press

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