Blueprint for Christchurch plan unveiled to Australia

21 August 2012

Sydney, Australia

The blueprint for rebuilding Christchurch's quake-hit city centre was unveiled today in Sydney by Mayor Bob Parker in his first visit to Australia since the February 2011 earthquake which devastated the city.

Parker was joined at the briefing by Tim Hunter, CEO of Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism and Tim Dearsley, Hotel Manager of the Ibis, Christchurch - the first hotel scheduled to re-open in the CBD since last year's event. They presented to an audience of Australian travel and tourism trade, business leaders and media.

The plan, which was developed in 100 days by the Christchurch Central Development Unit, includes input from residents, community groups and various government authorities charged with the task of developing the vision for the new Christchurch.

Hailed as bold and innovative, the plan seeks to significantly shrink the size of the CBD making it a more compact, people-friendly space framed with parks. The banks of the Avon River will be central to this vision allowing people to make the most of the city's scenic waterway. Public art telling the history of the river will be dotted along the banks and will draw people to a Māori cultural centre which will act as a welcoming point for visitors to the city. Cathedral Square will remain the "civic heart" of Christchurch but will be closed to through traffic and greened through the use of more grass and tree plantings.

Celebrated as major news for the re-growth of the city is the plan for the construction of a new Convention Centre which will cater for up to 2,000 delegates and will also include two hotels and retail. It will be located on a prime site in the heart of the city allowing easy access for delegates.

A proposed new covered stadium with natural turf will replace the earthquake damaged AMI stadium. It will be able to seat 35,000 people and is designed to host major concerts and sporting events. It will be within walking distance of the Convention Centre and the city hotels. For those more eager to participate in sports rather than watch them, a metro sports hub will house a competition size swimming pool with seating for up to 500, leisure pools and eight indoor courts.

New venues also will be built to cater for performing arts and music once again allowing Christchurch to showcase the city's talents in this area.

Additional precincts including business, innovation and health - anchored by the current hospital - will be developed as part of the overall plan.

An earthquake memorial will also feature in the new city vision to commemorate those who lost their lives in the tragedy.

Responsible for bringing Australian tourists back to the city, Tim Hunter said "this blueprint accentuates the stunning garden city attributes of Christchurch and shapes Christchurch as a city of the future - a place where people will want to come and visit once again."

However he also reminded Australians in his presentation that they should not put off visiting the city.

"There are plenty of things to do and see in Christchurch now. Many of our activities re-opened in a very short time after the quake last year and new businesses have sprung up through the resilience of local Cantabrians.

"Project Re: Start - the brightly coloured shipping container mall - provides a great afternoon of shopping and new pop-up bars and restaurants such as Smash Palace built in an old bus sit alongside existing attractions such as punting on the Avon River or the International Antarctic Centre as wonderful reasons to come back to Christchurch now. And with the re-opening of the Ibis and several other hotels to follow soon after we now have more places for our visitors to stay."

Supporting that, Lonely Planet recently said in advance of their new guidebook launch there: Christchurch is re-emerging as one of NZ's most exciting cities. If you're heading to the South Island of New Zealand, definitely spend a few days in the city. There's still plenty to do, and you'll be supporting the new businesses inspiring Christchurch's renaissance.

Hunter also announced that Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism is about to embark on a new creative campaign designed to get Australians to sit up and take notice and put Christchurch back on their travel radar. Appropriately themed "Christchurch Reimagined", the campaign will showcase the excitement of the developing city through the eyes of its residents and also visitors. The campaign launches in late September, 2012.

Mayor Parker is excited by the new blueprint which now paves the way for investors to come back into the city.

"We have a plan and a vision to make Christchurch strong, vibrant and liveable."