Quake-hit city unveils its clean, green future

A CONVENTION centre, sports stadium and performing arts complex are among big projects planned for a new-look Christchurch, after much of the city on New Zealand’s South Island was reduced to rubble by an earthquake last year.

Essentially given a blank slate, government planners yesterday unveiled a blueprint for the city that replaces office towers with green spaces, urban apartments and innovation “hubs” they say will give the city the feel of a university campus. Under the plan, the city will be smaller, the buildings lower in height and constructed to higher earthquake standards.

It has been nearly 18 months since the magnitude-6.1 quake struck, killing 185 people and irreparably damaging 1,400 buildings including the century-old Anglican cathedral in the city centre.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“It will be safe, modern, green and will make Christchurch one of the best places in the world to live and work for many generations to come,” mayor Bob Parker said.

Government officials have not yet identified an overall cost for the rebuild or specific funding sources for all the projects.

Nick Bryant, a spokesman for earthquake recovery minister Gerry Brownlee, said yesterday that the funding would come from a variety of sources, including local councils, private investors, insurance pay-outs and from central government, which has so far set aside NZ$5.5 billion (£2.82bn) for recovery efforts.

Under the plan, the city would be bordered with green spaces, with more emphasis on the winding Avon River. An earthquake memorial would be given prominence, as would a Maori cultural centre. The central square would be divided into smaller gathering spots.