Submission On the Draft for Consultation:
“An Accessible City He Taone Watea”
by Mark Gerrard,
Chair Historic Places Canterbury
Historic Places Canterbury is a regionally based society whose role is to advocate for the retention and protection of Christchurch’s and
Canterbury’s built heritage. The New Zealand Historic Places Trust Canterbury Committee has officially transitioned to Historic Places Canterbury. Historic Places Canterbury whilst independent is affiliated to the national organisation Historic Places Aotearoa.
As Chair of Historic Places Canterbury, I am making this submission to seek changes and comment on the following:
What is the Status of the ‘Accessible City’ document?
In conversation with a Staff Member of CERA it was commented to me this plan is more of an “overview”. This description accounts for the lack of detail. If this is an “overview”, we submit that CERA / CCDU will be obliged to engage in additional meaningful consultation when the final plan has been resolved.
Accessibility (page 5)
“...It will be more attractive and compact, and will offer a wider range of activities…”
Historic Places Canterbury disagrees with this opening statement. It could be inferred from this statement that with much of the heritage building stock demolished the central city without heritage is more attractive.
Whilst the counter argument will be made this is a Transport Plan, the language indicates a general statement and not one specifically referenced to Transport.
I note there is no explanatory reference to the City’s transport history. It would be more appropriate for CERA / CCDU to state that Accessible City is seeking to improve on what is existing whilst acknowledging the defining characteristics that have made Christchurch distinctive – the grid with counter point of the diagonals of High and Victoria Streets and the curving Avon River.
Historic Places Canterbury notes the proposal for Tuam Street to become a West-East one-way street and “contraflow cycling and walking routes” and will comment later on this in the Submission.
Cycling (page 10).
Historic places Canterbury submits it is nearly impossible to make a meaningful submission on cycling as there is no indication given on the width of the cycle lane and the pedestrian footpath. There is no indication that these illustrations are in correct scale or that they are artists impressions.
A cursory glance suggests the combined footpath cycle is the same width as two cars.
Main Streets (page 12)
“…They will be designed to match local character of the individual streets…”
The document gives no indication how this local character will be defined. We request in this submission the “local character” reflect the heritage and history of the particular street with appropriate interpretative signage.
Public transport (page 13)
The illustration indicates though the text does not acknowledge it, that the listed (former) Civic Offices, former Millers Department Store (163-173 Tuam Street) will be demolished to make way for the Bus
Historic Places Canterbury objects most strongly to the demolition of this heritage building. We request the current design as indicated in the image be discarded and a new innovative design developed where the (former) Civic Offices is retained. A CERA official is quoted in the Press as stating that the former Civic Offices are to be demolished so clearly a plan exists where the intention is stronger than ”possible” as quoted in the document.
Christchurch has by any measurable standard lost a significant amount of its Central City heritage and it is totally unacceptable that what remains, is at risk to Government initiated demolition because more innovative Urban Design solutions were not sought -especially as there are no constraints on the availability of empty land in the Central City.
During a presentation to the tourism industry a professional in the industry asked if the old Civic Offices were still standing, as they would make a great “Back Packers Hotel”. A bus interchange that accommodates a back packers hotel is a unique point of difference and demonstrates the type of innovative planning Christchurch could become known for.
We submit that a Streamlined Modernist Building (Former Civic Offices) is the ideal image for a Bus Interchange.
Public Transport routes (page 13)
"…Contraflow cycling and walking routes will run alongside the south
side of Tuam Street…"
Historic Places Canterbury concludes from this sentence that CERA / CCDU are intending to take the land and demolish the listed Former Odeon Theatre (214 Tuam) and Former Lawrie & Wilson Auctioneers buildings (210 Tuam) for a “contraflow cycling and walking routes…”
Historic Places Canterbury strongly objects to the demolition of these two heritage listed buildings in the city plan.
“..converting of Manchester Street between Armagh and Lichfield” Streets into a boulevard (p13) and diagram (p.14)
This implies the taking of land and consequent demolition of buildings on either or both sides of Manchester Street putting at risk significant heritage listed buildings such as the former Majestic Theatre (east side) and the Octagon (former Trinity lCongregational Church (west side). The intent of this submission should be applied to any character, historic or listed buildings that have not specifically been cited in this submission.
Historic Places Canterbury objects most strongly if the consequence of the intention is the demolition of listed heritage buildings. Christchurch has by any measurable standard lost a significant amount of its central City heritage and it is not acceptable that what is left, is at risk to Government initiated demolition.
Historic Places Canterbury submits that the retention of existing Heritage Buildings be of the highest priority and that any proposed designs /planning be altered to achieve this outcome.
Historic Places Canterbury submits that if any proposal in this document results in the demolition of character, historic or listed buildings then if should be acknowledged and stated clearly in the consultative documentation. If such details or possible outcomes are left out then any submitter might conclude that CERA/ CCDU are not engaging in meaningful consultation.
Historic Places Canterbury notes that it cannot find any reference to a Heritage Policy in this document and submits that a comprehensive statement should be included stating the policy and how the Accessible City conforms to this policy and where it differs and an explanation why it is at variance.
Car travel (page 16)
“Bealey, Fitzgerald, Moorhouse, Hagley and Deans Avenues will continue to act as major arterial routes…”
The Accessible City Document is filled with many images of proposed designs yet no mention is made of a commitment to retaining the current landscape design of Christchurch’s iconic tree lined streets / avenues nor are there any details on rectifying or greening the current treeless Moorhouse Ave.
Historic Places Canterbury submits that the tree lined avenues / streets are part of Christchurch’s heritage and a commitment made, and protections should be put in place to retaining them in their current form. Emphasizing their purpose as major arterial routes puts at risk such retention as in order to improve traffic flow, additional lanes, turning lanes (slots) etc may be seen as necessary, to the detriment of their present character.
In addition we submit a plan be made for Moorhouse Ave to match the treelined illustrations so prevalent in this document.
Wayfinding (page 19)
Historic Places Canterbury endorses the use of bilingual signage English and Maori in the “Wayfinding systems”.
We also endorse the proposal for “information routes and signage” which recognise and reveal Tangata Whenua associations, history and
sites of significance.
We submit that a similar equal commitment be made to recognize Christchurch’s European colonial history, associations, history and sites of significance (including recently demolished significant heritage buildings).
Comment: The image of the indicative signage (page 19) has only one language, which subverts the intention and efforts of those involved in this section.
We also submit there is one striking omission in this Wayfinding section:
There is no doubt “smart phones” are now common and the internet wi-fi world exists, so provision should be made for this or at least acknowledged. It is conceivable that the future need for signage and visual clutter will be reduced in this new interconnected world.
Appendix: District Plan Changes:
Historic Places Canterbury submits that any new proposed Plan changes should be clearly detailed in the documentation put out for consultation. Historic Places Canterbury has found in the few proposed plan changes of interest, that numerous proposed changes have already been implemented (mostly mid year) to the District Plan. (We crosschecked the proposed changes with the online plan at the Christchurch City Council web site) Considering the date when this document was released, it was unhelpful that Planning Changes that had already been implemented were included in this document.