Christchurch's south frame laneways will become an 'inner city oasis' - Wagner
The first block of Christchurch's South Frame laneways development is open to the public, but do not expect a "bustling" area yet.
Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister Nicky Wagner opened the Mollett St block – framed by St Asaph, Colombo and Durham streets – on Monday afternoon.
The block consists of two of large, intersecting laneways – Te Puhoe Lane and Sugarloaf Lane – connecting the surrounding roads.
The laneways, populated by seating and native grass and tree seedlings, run alongside derelict pre-earthquake buildings and empty concrete lots, but Wagner said the south frame would become an "inner city oasis".
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"When completed, the south frame will be an exciting and dynamic area spanning seven city blocks – its pavements and laneways bustling with markets, events, entertainment and dining," Wagner said.
A food caravan was on the site for the opening.
The frame, which includes the health and innovation precincts, was part of the CBD Blueprint, released in July 2012. It was touted as a public space with cycle lanes and walkways, but some property leaders have criticised the plan.
Amended plans reduced the proposed public spaces by more than half. Design drawings were made public in late 2015. The Crown had aimed to finish the bulk of the South Frame by the end of 2017, but now developer Otakaro Limited expects to finish construction in 2019.
Land Information New Zealand is still negotiating with landowners to acquire a small amount of land needed to complete it. In October last year, the Crown had 4000 square metres of land left to acquire, after spending $25 million buying up 25,000sqm for the anchor project.
The South Frame's centrepiece is a large pounamu and New Zealand's first "raining poetry" installation.
The poem, named A Promise and written by Burnside High School student Samantha Jory-Smart, is stencilled on the concrete in invisible spray.
When it gets wet, the water runs off the print, leaving it visible until the wet concrete around it dries. The poem references the traditional Maori proverb behind Matai Common, the name of the gathering space in the middle of the block.
Albert Brantley, chief executive of south frame developer Otakaro Limited, said the concept of laneways was thousands of years old, but often not incorporated in urban New Zealand.
He said laneways gave people better access to different streets and public areas. "It is very much about giving character to Christchurch."