Govt unveils Christchurch CBD plan; redevelopment of smaller city centre to be based around stadium, convention centre, justice precincts; Govt eyes land purchases

Govt unveils Christchurch CBD plan; redevelopment of smaller city centre to be based around stadium, convention centre, justice precincts; Govt eyes land purchases

By Alex Tarrant

Landowners in central Christchurch will know by the end of next week whether the government wants to purchase their land as part of its plan to redevelop the city's central business district (CBD).

And if they don't sell willingly, the government will use its power under earthquake recovery legislation to force them to sell at market value at the date of purchase.

Prime Minister John Key and Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee unveiled the government's redevelopment plan for the Christchurch CBD on Monday evening, following 100 days of planning and consultation by the Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU).

The central city would be divided into precincts of health, arts and entertainment, retail, and the justice and emergency sectors, they said.

That meant the rebuild would be anchored around civic amenities such as a new sports stadium, a metro sports centre and convention centre, as well as public amenities such as the hospital, courts and education facilities.

Key said the government would fund construction of the public facilities, while the Christchurch City Council and the private sector would need to decide between themselves how to pay for the civic projects like the convention centre. There was no mention of expected costs in press releases issued to the media before the announcement.

The government would set up a facilitation service to encourage private investment into the new CBD called Invest Christchurch, Key said.

Invest Christchurch's immediate focus would be on the local and national investor, business and development communities, with an international investment marketing campaign set to be launched in the fourth quarter this year, Brownlee said.

Smaller CBD

Christchurch’s CBD would be smaller and bordered by a unique green frame on its eastern boundary, which will connect through to green spaces in the north and south, and linked by a walkway and cycleway to Hagley Park, Key said.

Brownlee said the city's new form would take shape within a large L-shaped green space.

"The low density open space eastern frame will run from Kilmore Street to Saint Asaph Street, encapsulating an entire block-width of land between Madras and Manchester Streets.  It’s expected new urban living apartments will be developed along the edge of this space," he said.

“This innovation is the most significant change from the draft Recovery Plan, and is likely to enhance the economic value of the area and promote denser central city development,” he said.

The southern part of the frame, from Madras Street to Hagley Avenue, encapsulating the entire block-width of land between Tuam and Saint Asaph Streets would develop into a campus-style area, with a walkway and cycleway. 

"Sited between the hospital and the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (CPIT) site, this area will be ideally suited to the health, innovation and education sectors," Brownlee said.

“I anticipate a light, airy, college-campus style feel for the home of numerous innovative Christchurch companies and public sector agencies,” he said.

At the southern end of the frame area and close to another anchor project – the hospital and health precinct – would be a new metro sports facility. 

"This aquatic and indoor arena will be capable of playing host to national and international events.  It will offer high-performance training and sports medicine facilities alongside retail and entertainment activity complementary to sport," Brownlee said.

"An important key to the city’s commercial regeneration will be a new convention centre, which will cater for up to 2,000 people and complement other large centres proposed in Auckland and Queenstown.  The centre will be a catalyst to hotel investment and will connect the Square to the Avon River Precinct, which will ensure visitors enjoy the uniquely green beauty the central city has to offer," he said.

Land purchases

With the design of the new central Christchurch area set out in the Recovery Plan it was now time to start discussions about the transfer of land ownership for projects, Brownlee said.

"Commercial sensitivities meant it was not possible for CERA’s Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU) to start direct negotiations with land owners during its 100-day work programme," Brownlee said.

“Now that the locations and scope of the anchor projects and precincts have been confirmed, it is clear some large parcels of land are required for very different uses than their present ones,” he said.

While the Crown had the power to compulsorily acquire land under the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act 2011, the strong preference was for negotiations to now begin with the relevant parties in order to conclude purchases by the Crown on mutually agreed terms. 

"However the tight timelines required if Christchurch’s recovery is to be secured will mean the first steps of compulsory purchase will also start this year, but these will not preclude the ability to negotiate and reach agreement in the first instance," Brownlee said.

"The Government will also seek to facilitate land transfers and purchases for private sector investors in the CBD where it considers those projects will materially advance the recovery and other options are unlikely to succeed or be achievable within the time needed to commit those investments," he said.

Land required for the anchor projects, including the open space frame, would be designated by the end of next week in the Christchurch City Council’s City Plan as a result of the direction in the Recovery Plan.

"One of the effects of the designation is that present owners will no longer be able to alter the way the land is used without the consent of the Minister as the requiring authority.  Designations are used throughout New Zealand for roads, schools, and many other public works," Brownlee said.

"Prices for all land acquisitions in the central city (other than for central city red zone residential areas declared earlier this year) will be based on market values at the date the land is acquired.  This reflects the highly variable nature of inner city land and improvements.  Offers for land and improvements will therefore not be based on rateable valuations," he said.

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.


Comment Filter

Highlight new comments in the last hr(s).

So a covered stadium.  Another council cockup of the future like Dunedin - using OPM -other peoples money. 
I've had my time free in corporate boxes paid for by others and wonderful it was.  I think you will find the people who think this great and the event tonight applauding the new plan also are those who will benefit from such goodies.  Of those who were outside demonstrating because they don't have an intact house.  You will find they are not on the free coporate box circuit.

It's got to have a covered stadium and major convention centre, that is what every city has to have. Although both Auckland and Wellington have neither and are successful. 
I think covered boutique stadium are white elephants. They are too small to attract big games, and too large not to have a huge cost. Wellington stadium is probably NZs most successful purpose built stadium, and even that was too small to attract the really big games. eg the world cup semis and final.

"Key said the government would fund construction of the public facilities"
It is the taxpayer not the Gov't that will pay for these facilities.

I am impressed, and as a half Cantabrian proud.
I think its a great plan, and achievable

That comment shows how much of a fool you are MIA.  I thought you were opposed to restrictive planning???  See my comment below...

I second your comment Chris-J.

Thanks for the postively charming comment Chris!
As you probably know I'm not afraid to dish out criticism of this government. However, I think this is a good plan. It is very compact and focussed. I did not support the previous plan which was equally as dense but over a wider area, I think this plan provides an opportunity to provide a very focussed and connected CBD. 
I have not looked at the economics - it seems you have and you have dismissed it on that basis. Maybe you are right. But I presume (dangerous?) that heavy consultation would have occured with businesses and developers to formulate this to ensure it is feasible. No???  
MIA (The Fool)

No consultation was done with anyone MIA except the few who have mysteriously benefitted (such as those lumped with large land parcels they wanted to offload - like Angus McFarlane who courted CERA, and those with interests that they've had protected by the restrictions - like Antony Gough)
Back to the point.  The plan allows about 8ha of undeveloped land at most on which offices can be built easily.  Much of that will be used for retail space and some for hotels.
It encourages offices of 7 stories (similar height to the buildings that collapsed) which no one really wants.
That is not enough space to build a CBD.  It is complete insanity.
We have loons in charge who simply want to use up land to make it look like something is happening, instead of allowing the free market to dictate what gets built.
The free market works far better than National give it credit for.  It seems the Nats have become socialists or communists.
The perfect example is an ugly poorly designed building built on Colombo north, despite the shortage of space no one wants it even though it's the cheapest new office in town.  The market works.  Government meddling is about to make the recovery a whole lot worse, if not kill it outright.

I'm eager to hear ECramptons analysis. I worry about these command and control land aquisition plans.
Doesn't it set the stage for yet more plain old rent seeking, if you happen to own in an area nominated for a particular 'precint'?.
If the land is bad/poor, prices need to fall so a developer can buy it off someone who doesn't want it and make it productive (whatever that final use may be). Having the government in there is stopping private owners come up with their own solutions.
Also the height restrictions, why is 7 somehow the magic number? I don't care if someone wants to build Taipei 101 in there, let them do so based on the actual commerical demand for space.

Chris_J - your absolutely correct and this proves the free market is DEAD.  Our PM made a statement after the earthquakes something along the lines of he had never thought about significant disasters only about the economics of a country. I was quite disturbed by his statement as it showed a distint level of ignorance. The free market always knows there is a possibility of events outside their control and either sinks or swims through the event.
I was left with the distinct feeling that our PM did not understand economics at all. The obsession with GPD that all in Wellington cling too shows a poor understanding that GDP does not correlate to prosperity of the country and its people.  I would just about guarantee that this plan has been factored into GDP somewhere without acknowledging how its effects are going to affect the cities/countries prosperity as a whole. In other words the Government and its agencies have not factored in empty buildings only the cost of the rebuild on GDP. This is shortsighted and will significant'y impact on GDP figures after being built.  The free market if allowed is enforced to look at bottom line figures and has to factor in occupancy/suitability etc into its model in order to avoid failure.
To use hastily drafted legislation to enforce procurement of land from private individuals is a travesty on everyones rights to participate in a free market.  To enforce a design on the people without consultation with the wider community and then to expect taxpayers/ratepayers to foot the bill is obnoxious, arrogant and ignorant.  As you have identified a couple of private individuals who will benefit it would appear Corporatocracy is at play. Private individuals getting into bed with Government or its agencies are the downfall of this countries prosperity and the ruination of the free market.  And even worse is Capitalism wears the blame for most of the problems created by the mixed model system that Governments past and present continue to play.
Did anyone of these ratbags involved in this plan hold any discussions with those business's that were operating within the CBD at the time of the earthquake? Many of those business's have indicated they would never place themselves or their staff within the CBD area or in a highrise ever again.  This would actually mean that a new generation of business owners would need to appear in order to rent or use the space that is proposed.  The financial implications on taxpayers and the local community have the ability to be horrendous.
Magna Carte was intorduced to stop the King from taxing the people. I think we need a modern day version that stops the Government from endlessly taxing the people and controlling every square inch of business and life. Beautiful cities are not created by Government they are created by the free market as everyone involved in the free market knows and understands the principles of competition involved and places their money accordingly. It is the culture of a community that creates and interference in this community culture creates nothing but mayhem.

The free market works far better than National give it credit for.  It seems the Nats have become socialists or communists.
We are all struggling to find a name for the new style of state we live in, It is a mix of Corporate Interests and Government working together, It has no interest in Free Markets and Competition rather it is a politically connected grouping that funds parties and directs policy to ensure minimal competition- small business that give the appearence of competition, lots of brand names in the market place etc.
Industry by industry, sector by sector small pwerful corporate interests have control. Each sector may have a couple of Groups with most of the market say 2-3 max groups with 80-90% share. Legislation and policy will be driven and directed for these groups and by these groups.
It is a strange end to the free market. Not one that I would have thought would happen. Still it is a world wide trend.

It's a bit of everything: cronyism, nepotism, a Fletchers, CERA, EQC oligarchy, and a the worst parts of socialism and fascism to boot if that isn't all contradictory!
What it's achieving is massive national debt and a declining economy.
Should we be surprised??  I can vouch for the fact Gerry couldn't run a classroom let alone a country.  And Key clearly can't make any money unless it's fleeced from his employer (consider his wealth has declined in the past 5 years according to NBR when even a mug investing in a conservative fund would have grown their wealth).

It seems the Nats have become socialists or communists.
Or Fascists!


"market values at the date the land is acquired" is a phrase that will gain some notoriety.....

There hasn't been a properly functioning market for land in the CBD here for nearly two years, as Brownlee well knows, so I find his comments on this matter disingenuous. However, land owners facing "request" to acquire their land do have some choice, they may instead be able to use their land to "buy in" to whatever development takes place on it (in some instances, anyway) rather than a forced sale at values fixed by Crown-paid valuers. Also, land has been devalued here by the EQs, and commercial land, being uninsured, may not be worth as much as it was prevously, particularly if costly foundations would be required for any new bulding. So pre-EQ values may not be particularly relevant, whereas for the residential red zone, because the land did have EQC cover, those pre-EQ values would be more relevant (how this ties up with latest rating values is another subject altogether)..
I hate to think what the proposed stadium will cost, or what it will cost the ratepayer every year if the Council is daft enough to underwrite its operation. This may be what the NZRFU/CRFU want, but is it fair to demand of the ratepayer (many of whom aren't interested in the game) to fund it and prop it up in years to come? Not exactly "user pays", is it? 

The stadium just baffles me. The temp stadium looks to be good for at least the next 5 years.
Sure in the long term most people would probably agree a multi-sport covered stadium is the best option.
However, what is the rush all of a sudden? This could be something for 15-20 years time. ie build a replacement stadium 10 years down the track and build it of modular design so you can pop a roof on it 5 years after that. Or perhaps use one of those inflatable roof designs, such as
Then you could put a more expensive roof on in 20 years etc if required .... one of many possible ideas.
We might find Addington, or somewhere near a rail line is preferable for long term transport planning. Nobody knows what the structure of Chch CBD is going to be like so how can you really plan to put a stadium there?

I've spent the evening digesting it, and the conclusion is that it is an ABOMINATION.
We have a prescriptive and restrictive plan that will stifle rebuilding and send Christchurch to hell in a handcart.
They intend placing restrictions preventing development in about half the CBD, meaning only the gleeful lucky land owners in prescribed areas will proper (Anthony Gough and the like).
The rest will either be turfed out with the land confiscated at bargain rates or a 10 year no build moratorium placed on their land!!
Add to that new restrictions on doing developments anywhere else in the city!!
We have Hugh P's perfect nightmare!!!!!!!!
Bureaucrats driving up land prices!  They will make office space too expensive to build (ie rents will need to be astronomical) and hence no one will build and nothing will happen!!
This proves those in charge are utter fools and no one will profit except for those in the core.
NB I do own land in the core and none in the restricted areas, so I could well benefit from the restrictions, however I believe that this plan is to the detriment of the city and it limits our ability to acquire other sites to develop at acceptable prices.
Only fools would think that this is a plan to save the city.
This will simply tie up half the CBD landowners in battles with the CERA, or simply give them the opportunity to walk away and cash out.  It will also destroy the history and heritage that remains without any consideration.
All an utter disgrace.

Chris_J - I am placing a link on a very good report that was written on property rights or should I say the lack of them in NZ and thought you might be interested.
When landowners in the CBD are forced to sell to the Govt one thing that stands out besides the value of the land is the loss of income potential from future use that land could have produced for the owner.  Lewis Evans,  Neil Quigley and Kevin Counsell have put this paper.  It highlights numerous Govt decisions made over many decades in the many areas of property confiscation because of the lack of property rights in NZ.,14385/14385_Property_rights_as_human_rights_...
It is well worth reading.

Property rights abuse all in the name of progress? Look who gains and who they support :-)
Like this bit above ...
"The Government will also seek to facilitate land transfers and purchases for private sector investors in the CBD where it considers those projects will materially advance the recovery and other options are unlikely to succeed or be achievable within the time needed to commit those investments,"he said" 
Specfics were being talked about pre-christmas... now we will see if it now happens. Some of the big winners actually will be bough out :-) It's tax payers money involved, I do hope  the media look carefully at the deals when they are done. Bet  it wont happen.

An important key to the city’s commercial regeneration will be a new convention centre, which will cater for up to 2,000 people and complement other large centres proposed in Auckland and Queenstown. 
Does this mean that presently, NZ has no large (2000+ attendee) convention centres? - and in the midst of an as yet unresolved global financial crisis - we have three of this size (all assumed to have ratepayer/taxpayer assistance) planned?
PS - I think the words" compete with" should be substuted for "complement" in the above statement.  

Kate, It seems impossible that a country of 4.4 million people should have to envisage the prospect of funding such costly, redundant endeavours at this unsettled juncture. 
Makes an asylum seem a place of sanity.

Thats correct, Christchurch had the market corned pre-eartquakes, it will not have the same spill over benefites when it has to compete.

I visited the Red Zone a couple of weeks ago and I was staggered at the number and size of buildings to come down. There were sites with the buildings gone, buildings that were condemned, buildings that looked OK but for various reasons were probably going to be condemned, the end result being an almost total flattening of the CBD. Then there were the buildings outside the Red Zone. I went inside a multi-storey one that looked OK until you noticed ripples in the concrete floor, a drain hole that required water to flow uphill, hundreds of very small cracks in the misaligned concrete panels, overstressed reinforcing steel connecting floor to columns etc. I asked my guide whether the landowners were keen to rebuild in the CBD. He said that if they got their insurance money they could buy in Auckland or Wellington and receive a fairly predictable return. Alternatively they could pay for 20-40 metre deep piling, pay for extra insurance, and then put up a replacement building in the Red Zone, hoping that they could get office and retail tenants to pay for their investment in what will initially be a ghost town. I do not know much about real estate but this looks like a hopeless situation. I can see that the government thinks that by plonking down some big civic structures it will somehow encourage real estate investors to fill the gaps. It could well end up being a big park with a few public buildings here and there, and nothing inbetween. A very expensive park.
I went back to my hotel room to ponder what I had seen. I eventually relaxed when I realised that there was nothing to worry about because the Government has everything under control. We just need to trust that they know what they are doing.
Then the hotel started to shake in a most disconcerting fashion.

+1, it was also good to put a face to the name.

At 1.06 to 1.08 and 2.05 to 2.10 on the above clip, it clearly shows the Historic Arts Centre replaced by a collection of highrises.
This is not just a "typo" as other areas of the CBD shown completely as how they are today.
Is there a veiled attempt to demolish every ounce of heritage in our city??????

My take on watching the clip was that it wasn't even "veiled".
The music and the voiceover - plain yuck - a cross between Planet of the Apes and Star Wars - totally tacky.

What are the people of CHCH waiting for? A new election? (local or national) The zoning process alone was a ploy to break up 'united support'.
CHCH people must start acting. Step one:
TAKE BACK THE INNER CORDON and set up camp ( I MEAN camp!)
Get 100,000 people EVEN for a weekend and you have won!
Can CHCH people do that?
TAKE BACK YOUR CITY! and be prepared to fight because the government WILL send in the cavalry to fight you lot.
Whinging to the media will not change ANYTHING. YOU MUST ACT

Hugh I am posting a link to an interesting report on property rights - you may have already seen this..  You might have to copy and paste to your browser. It is written by Lewis Evans,  Neil Quigley, and Kevin Counsell.,14385/14385_Property_rights_as_human_rights_...