Monday, February 28, 2011


As our bureaucracy will ensure months/years of delay before any real rebuilding of Christchurch will start, John Key should immediately announce an international competition, open to anyone, for new ideas for the area bounded by the four avenues. It should provide areas for people to do things on an individual basis but within a new frame work. New open spaces can be incorporated. Maybe a simple tram system for transport
Let the creativity of people help define the future of Christchurch and the gateway to the South Island.
We must rebuild this area in an exciting and affordable manner that encourages people and business to want to be part of it.
There will be thousands of ideas out there so lets get them on paper and make a plan.
We need a vision of the future.


JC said...

Lets not advertise for a plan internationally but rather follow the stunningly successful process Napier went through. The Govt appointed two commissioners who requested plans for the new city from local firms, a plan was selected and a year later those commissioners had Napier up and running. In the meantime the locals made do with what they called "Tin Town".. a shopping area in an adjacent park made of corrugated iron.

It'll take a lot longer for Chch, but Napier is a good model to look at.

Incidentally, Napier was rebuilt on charity money and local initiatives. Taxpayer loans were available but were too measly and had horrendous conditions.


Inventory2 said...

Don't assume that red tape wil;l be a problem Lou. I heard the head of Orion on the radio this morning, and he mentioned that they got a resource consent for the overhead power supply to the eastern suburbs; the process that would normally take two years was approved by Brownlee and his officials in 30 minutes.

Lou Taylor said...

Thanks JC
that is very interesting. How things were done in simpler times.

IV I admire your optimism but i suspect once basic services are reinstated the bureaucracy will once again take over.

PM of NZ said...

Lou, nice to see those supposedly on the right ready to drive a D9 over the property rights of owners of the dirt on which the condemned building s currently sit.

And those owners will no doubt be hounded by the bureaucrats and insurance companies to build to more stringent building regulations at greatly increased cost.

Businesses will walk on the increased costs as will the populace.

Inventory2 said...

@ PM; with respect, that's bollocks. The construction of an overhead cable is a specific measure to restore power to the eastern suburbs where there has been major damage to substations. They will have it completed this week; repairs to underground services would have taken six to eight weeks. Surely, getting power out there is a priority, or is the "cavalry" you blogged about over the weekend something different?

Lou Taylor said...

I was thinking about property rights PM. If I was a land owner in the area I would want the opportunity to be part of something that had a chance to work. There is alot of public land already in the area, under every road for example. If people lost land to new public spaces I am sure that equal sized areas could be created for them. It would just be a case of lateral thinking, redefining areas and a bit of surveying.No individual property owner would miss out. There is a lot of old unsuitable property in this area and I think owners, landlords and tennants would welcome the opportunity for a fresh start.

Anonymous said...

already in wexcess of 700 business premesis have been red ticketed, and are to be demolished. The Dozers will have those buildings down in a matter of weeks. There won't be the faffing around that the heritagists imposed on the sept recovery; which may well have cost lives in the tragedy that is 22.2.11.
The landowners in the CBD will be able to get access to clear sites to begin the rebuilds, but the problem will be the tenants. There will be so many failed companies who will cease to exist due to no trading. Yes some othrs will rise from the ashes to fill the void, but the compliance costs of the rebuild will greatly affect the size of the tennantable building. Previously a 10 story building may have had a 10M price tag, but that 10m will now only buy you a 2-3 story. Will the new rents be cost effective for the businesses concerned, or will they say, screw this we're off to the burbs or local towns where rents are cheaper.
How much will the Grand Chancellor cost to rebuild?

Anonymous said...

Slim chance Lou. The odds are that greenie-type central planners will stifle any progress, searching for a "sustainable" city, built around public transport and no housing. The same type of public transport their Botany candidate failed to use. I see Rod Oram in yesterday's SST is already arguing for a centrally-planned Christchurch *shudder*.

alex Masterley said...

The words "centrally planned" give me a dose of the trots.

What happens should be up to the people of Christchurch,starting at grass roots up to the top. Not from the top down.

The Napier example as JC says is an excellent precedent. It is simple and worked. Get the ideas to the commissioners and build without delay.

A happy outcome is that no-one in Christchurch for the forseeable future should be able to call themselves unemployed as there will be enough work and more to keep all hands fully occupied.

gravedodger said...

Perspective huh, yes there is a model in Napier but that was 80 years ago and involved a CBD of what, 4-5 hectares with extremely modest commercial needs. here we have an area 100 times that with many and varied needs and a vastly larger total requirement.
What I fear is a group of big egoed Experts bringing their pureist notions of perfection to bear and they are really good at that and have a track record that is at best patchy as the worst of them are self appointed.
A lot of what we have lost is the "Heritage heart" built of "Halswell stone" eg Cathedral, old uni buildings provincial council building and many others, subsequently proven to be inadequate for construction. That was followed by the many Brick buildings again proven an achilles heel. There is no more "Halswell Stone", quarry closed.
Remember the outcry over the demolition of the Manchester Towers, hopefully we will just demolish all those death traps this time and the dopey idealists will just stfu.
I have said before, a small dark part of my psyche had a group of the misguided who were totally ignorant of the potential of those old buildings to bring disaster, having a lunch to celebrate the saving of the Manchester Towers on Tuesday 22nd February on the ground floor of that building. Thankfully it was demolished after a court battle before this round.
I support your track Lou, it not only has merit but has some worthwhile precedents, our Magnificent Town Hall came from a competition if my memory is accurate and if nothing results it will at least provide options that may or may not be followed.
As the rebuild will inevitably involve lower heights therefore a larger ground area maybe an integrated rapid transport system can be incorporated to connect with Airport,Hospital, arenas, snail rail and port.
Would an underground rail system enhance subsoil strength or compromise it.

Lou Taylor said...

Thanks for your ideas guys
For some wierd reason I would have grand canals radiating out from the Square, with low rise residential and commercial buildings, plenty of small interesting spaces for small business and relaxation/entertainment. Large sculptures and stacks of trees. It all has to be a tourist destination in it's own right.

Anonymous said...

How much will the Grand Chancellor cost to rebuild?

It doesn't matter - you would be stupid to build that height here now. We need to learn some lessons. Pushing the boundaries is fine when its for reasons that make sense. Ego and vanity don't make sense.

Anonymous said...

They should get Nigel McKenna to plan it. Hes the best master planner in NZ and Aus.

Rob Carr said...

Agree with you there Lou. This is a great opportunity to build something fantastic in the centre of Christchurch and I really hope they take the time to think what will suit the people of Christchurch best rather than doing a rush job. If it is a central government built area worries around bureaucratic approval shouldn't be an issue because they should trust themselves to comply with building regulations. If they started now there is no reason they couldn't have a working plan going and under construction within six months even with a public competition model.

JC said...

Thinking about that Napier example..

Hastings was up and running nearly a year earlier but it didn't have the same devastation and thus doesnt have the same sense of an overriding plan as Napier.

The thing to watch in the Chch CBD is that they don't simply replace 20-30% of the buildings without a concept for the future.

And that concept includes stone.. by the same incredible coincidence that saw a medical conference in town and a conference on earthquakes, so too was there an expert on restoring the Egyptian pyramids, on a Fulbright scholarship. He was adamant that stone can be used again with modern techniques.. with possibly a height restriction for most buildings. He was confident the Cathedral could be rebuilt.

Lou and GD..

The overriding factor about Napier is the Govt wasn't the main player either in concept design or funding, consequently the two commissioners (plus, IIRC, a surveyor) called the tune. We think of it as a simpler time but really it was a simpler structure for the rebuild that worked.. and admittedly it helps when your infrastructure is 90% gone and there's bugger all to argue about and defend.

As I suggested in another thread I would like to invest in the rebuilding.. that has the dual prospect of giving me a return on a worthwhile project and reducing the dead hand of a Govt funded revival.


kehua said...

All this is well and good but if the ground under the buildings is rooted,and it is, and the likelyhood of more of the same then it is madness to even contemplate rebuilding Christchurch on the same buggered sites. It will always be a case of when, not if. Besides that the population is going to be a lot less once people get their Insurance, Ask your self would you want to live in the Christchurch area or would you prefer White Isand or does the Wairarapa sound good. God forbid? Speaking of God the last buggers to listen to would be his Earthly spokesmen after all their Boss is responsible for the mess.


When I lived in Christchurch around 2003, I noted the traffic flowed well.
But in the past few years it has got rather congested.
The quake and the damaged buildings does give some scope for some decent motorways and expressways, especially if the city is more dispersed with several CBDs.
Who know? Hornby could become a 'node' of development, or Rolleston, Rangiora and so on.
They will need linking together.
I do expect a more low rise and sprawled out Christchurch as people will probably fear high rises, even if they are built to the highest standards.

Anonymous said...

With good leadership and vision a shining NeoChristChurch can arise from the rubble. This is the great task that has befallen our generation. Previous generations have also faced adversity - recession/depression, disaster/catastrophe & war - and have overcome. We now have the first two (and World War IV doesn't kick off until 2027).

We must think long term about the rebuilding - decades & centuries ahead. We could use this as an opportunity to help develop and populate the entire Mainland for the future. I don't think NeoChCh will or should have a built-up CBD/centre again, we must break with the past and try a new path. Instead I think as others have suggested it will be multi-nodal - a cluster of smaller hubs. There is absolutely no requirement in this day & age to have 100 office workers sitting on their bums in a high-rise tower box in the middle of the CBD and now no justification given that all property costs will now be totally sunk. There is no reason to have small businesses, banks, cafes, institutions, etc in the CBD. Only heavy industry and big box retail/facilities need to be separately zoned. Only one thing does need to be centrally planned now - land corridors to serve for a hundred years+ (not necessarily for motorways but all possible future transport + utilities).

Perhaps to kick off given that Christchurch City Council is now insolvent - we put it in bankruptcy and allocate the staff & assets to several new Incorporations. Also void the RMA within the old TLA area and let each local Incorporation and it's citizens do what it wants in terms of planning, controls & rebuilding. If we don't do this it means we really don't have faith in ourselves to do the right thing - well Sir I for one believe Kiwis can and will do the right thing if left to it, even if it is a difficult path. Our pioneering spirit is not yet totally dead.

Anonymous said...

"let each local Incorporation and it's citizens do what it wants in terms of planning, controls & rebuilding."

Yeah, let's create a whole lot of little bureaucracies and local governments and let them make their own regulations and laws. Kind of collectivist but hey, let's be pragmatic.

Flashman said...

Of course it's all fluid and dynamic now. But in a month's time all the bureaucratic urban planning treacle will begin to solidify.

And in six months Christchurch will be an open cheque honeypot for the likes of sustainability nazis and "progressive" centralised urban planners.

Anonymous said...

Incidentally, Napier was rebuilt on charity money and local initiatives. Taxpayer loans were available but were too measly and had horrendous conditions.

Sounds like a plan. But in 1925 NZ was the most hardworking, the most productive, the most successful country in the world, with no welfare system to speak of, and certainly no crippling government debt.

In 1925 we had the money to do things.

Now in 2011, we are a basket case - barely able to call ourselves "first world", with public accounts, and corporate and domestic economy built on nothing but bludging and borrowing for the last 25 years.

IF we had stayed with the plan that Ruth Richardson put in place in her 1991 budget, and IF we had carried on in that direction, then perhaps we'd be well placed to rebuild.

As it is, it's time to be honest. We simply cannot afford to rebuild Christchurch - our second largest city - and won't be able to afford to rebuild anywhere else.

Perhaps we could - just - if we stopped paying 120% of actual government income every year for benefits of one kind or another! - but we won't.

integrated rapid transport system can be incorporated to connect with Airport,Hospital, arenas, snail rail and port.
Would an underground rail system enhance subsoil strength or compromise it.

For FUCKS SAKE. We can't afford it! There is no money left!!!

He was confident the Cathedral could be rebuilt.

Again: Who's gonna pay?? It took 40 years to build that cathedral- the idea that it could be rebuilt in your or my lifetime - that NZ could afford it - is completely nuts.

And in six months Christchurch will be an open cheque honeypot for the likes of sustainability nazis and "progressive" centralised urban planners.

Well I'm sure the leftist would like that.
But - as English keeps on saying - there's no f**king money

best thing we can do would be to bulldoze the lot.
get some developers to put up quick tranches of new housing units & basic corporate boxes in South Auckland. Expect people to move.

Rebuild Christchurch? Please.

Lou Taylor said...

We actually have plenty of wealth.
We have just forgotten how to use it wisely.