12 April 2018
A green spine extending from the city to sea is poised to set Christchurch apart as a place that is prepared to explore new ways of living with nature – from adaptive housing to sustainable urban agriculture.
Walkways and biking tracks, wetland developments and a variety of other public and private land uses are included in a shortlist of potential options for an area of land known as the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor.
The 11-kilometre stretch of land was described as Christchurch’s “residential red zone” for many years following the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010 and 2011, owing to the houses that occupied urban sections there before the quakes.
It is nearly twice the size of Central Park in New York and four times the size of Hyde Park in London.
ChristchurchNZ is highly supportive of the decision to create a “living laboratory” in the corridor, with ecological, food, cultural and recreational experiences, sustainable agriculture and adaptable housing forming part of a unique urban environment.
“The way we use this land is an opportunity for Christchurch to be known internationally as a city that values sustainability and is prepared to explore new and different ways of living,” says Chief Executive Joanna Norris.
Regenerate Christchurch is responsible for developing the regeneration plan for the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor and says a mix of naturally-occurring and new activities has potential to attract up to a million unique visitors a year.
It says a “green spine” will extend along the river, up to 150 metres wide on each side, with large areas of ecological restoration, wetlands and community spaces.
Elsewhere, there will be three significant areas suitable for a variety of potential public and private land uses reflecting themes of food and culture, experiencing nature and activity and play.
“These will create opportunities for school children and researchers to learn about the natural environment to better understand the challenges and opportunities within a truly living laboratory,” says Regenerate Christchurch Chief Executive Ivan Iafeta.
Norris says the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor is “an incredible resource on our doorstep” and the concepts provided by Regenerate provide tangible opportunities for Christchurch people and visitors to reconnect with the land.
“The green spine will give our residents and tourists a chance to explore a really interesting and beautiful part of our city.”
Regenerate Christchurch says 83 percent of people surveyed about the land’s future in 2017, after it published 10 possible combinations of uses for the area, prioritised groundwater quality in the area and 72 percent prioritised water quality in its rivers, streams, lakes and wetlands.
It has now development a refined shortlist that will feature in an upcoming public exhibition.
Iafeta says implementation of the plan is likely to be the beginning of a 30-year intergenerational programme of work.