Light rail, a smaller central business district and a new swimming centre are among features of a draft plan for the rebuild of quake-hit central Christchurch.
The plan, prepared by the Christchurch City Council, does not include any geotechnical information about the state of the land.
However, engineering consultants Tonkin & Taylor have said that the central city is generally safe for rebuilding.
The plan is due to be released sometime around midday today, and it is the result of widespread community input. Its release is also timely, with the six-month anniversary of the devastating February 22nd quake just days away, and just over three weeks until the first anniversary of 4 September; dates which will be burned into the consciousness of those who experienced the violence that was unleashed on Canterbury.
The centre of Christchurch is going to look very different from what it was the last time we were in what has become the Red Zone on 3rd January this year - read on:
A light rail public transport system, a pet project of Mayor Bob Parker, is proposed to link the central city with outlying suburbs.
The first stage of the rail project would connect the city centre to the University of Canterbury, while future links are proposed for the airport and suburban areas, including Hornby, Northlands and New Brighton.
Buses would remain the main form of public transport within the four avenues.
It is understood the plan recommends an intensified business "core". Graduated height restrictions are proposed, with some taller buildings allowed in the core, but low-rise elsewhere in the central city.
Financial incentives would be offered to businesses that chose to move into the central city. Other incentives would be given to buildings with strong environmental and urban design features.
Residential development would be based largely in the northern, north-western and north-eastern areas of the central city.
Other parts of the city centre would revolve around specialised precincts, a concept which proved popular during the Share an Idea campaign.
A cultural precinct would be based in the area around the Arts Centre. Entertainment precincts, including the Lichfield lanes area, are proposed to have relaxed noise-level restrictions. There is also a proposal for an international area south of Lichfield St.
A new aquatic facility would be built on the site of the former Red Bus depot near AMI Stadium. The draft plan also includes a new convention centre to replace the current centre.
The Avon River is likely to play a more prominent role in the central city, after residents and experts expressed concerns about how it had been used.
The river will have a 30-metre setback on each side, allowing the council to develop a green belt for pedestrians and cyclists. Cycleways are also proposed through the city.
We especially like the idea of light rail, having enjoyed its convenience when we've been in cities outside New Zealand. A light rail link to the revamped Christchurch Airport would be a great innovation.
Public consultation on the draft plan will begin next week, and whilst not everyone will be satisfied with what is proposed, we hope that the plan garners widespread support so that the rebuild of Christchurch can get underway. Cantabrians deserve something to look forward to after what has been the toughest of years.
Kia kaha Christchurch!