Residents’ views on how Greater Christchurch will develop as its population continues to grow will be at the heart of an ambitious urban growth and transport plan being developed.
The Whakawhanake Kāinga Komiti (Urban Growth Partnership for Greater Christchurch) are inviting people living in Christchurch City, Selwyn and Waimakariri Districts to take part in the discussion to shape where and how their area will grow in the future and how its transport infrastructure can be future-proofed.
The Huihui Mai (let’s come together) engagement opens this week and runs to Sunday, 26 March. It asks if the Partnership’s work on how we accommodate more people and business in Greater Christchurch in the future, while also providing a high quality of life for our people, a thriving economy and protecting our environment, is in line with the community’s aspirations. This work also includes a potential ‘turn up and go’ mass rapid transit system, that both responds to and encourages growth along its route.
Greater Christchurch’s population is forecast to double to a million people over the next 60 years or even earlier, following rapid growth over the past 15 years.
“This means Greater Christchurch’s public transport network requires significant changes to make it a viable option for its residents, who have some of the highest dependency on private motor vehicles in the country,” says Minister of Transport Michael Wood.
“Residents views are being sought on a turn up and go public transport service that is more reliable, sustainable and high frequency so residents want to make the switch from using private cars and can do so with confidence.
“The service would run along a dedicated corridor from the central city north to Belfast and south-west to Hornby. This turn up and go service would create a strong connected spine through the city, helping reduce travel time and making it easier for people to get to where they want to go.
“We’re also exploring what type of mode will be best suited for the proposed route, either Bus Rapid Transit or light rail, but it would be frequent, convenient, zero emission and be able to move large numbers of people.”
The Greater Christchurch Mayors are enthusiastically encouraging participation in Huihui Mai:
“We are engaging on the Greater Christchurch Spatial Plan and the proposed turn up and go service work together to give the community a fuller picture of our possible future,” says Christchurch Mayor Phil Mauger. “We are seeking the public’s views now on the challenge of where we are going to accommodate more people, how they will get around the region, and how we protect and enhance our environment. The feedback received will be built into our draft plan which goes out for formal consultation later in the year.”
This work is not starting from scratch. In 2020 Greater Christchurch residents were asked what kind of place they wanted for future generations and that feedback has helped shaped planning for future growth.
“The message was clear,” says Mayor Mauger. “Residents wanted Greater Christchurch to be sustainable, vibrant and safe, people wanted thriving community centres, a focus on places for people – with less urban sprawl, more affordable housing and much better transport options so there is less dependence on cars.”
Last year Central Government and members of the existing Greater Christchurch Partnership established an Urban Growth Partnership for Greater Christchurch – the Whakawhanake Kāinga Komiti, which brings together local government, mana whenua and central government to advance shared urban growth objectives, says Mr Wood.
“The Government is upgrading New Zealand’s transport infrastructure to future proof the network for future generations to come, securing New Zealand’s economy and supporting our regions to thrive,” he says.
Waimakariri District Mayor Dan Gordon is enthusiastic about this work. “This is a chance for the public to tell us about the important issues that affect their quality of life to help us better understand local issues and work on solutions together to unlock urban development opportunities.”
Over the last 15 years, Christchurch and the surrounding towns have grown rapidly.
“Much of this growth has been in the new subdivisions on the outskirts of the city and surrounding towns and this has led to a loss of farmland and difficulties in providing public transport that gets people where they want to go,” says Selwyn District Mayor Sam Broughton.
“Selwyn, for example, is a strong farming area with extremely fertile land, much of which is already being used for food production. It is important that this high quality agriculture land is retained for the use it is best suited to and not lost to housing development,” he says. “At the same time we recognise that we need to accommodate our growing population and that is why the plan for future growth is so important for our region.”
Mr Wood said that the government is fully committed to Greater Christchurch and continuing to help it grow and succeed.
A turn up and go service would provide more travel options with easy links to the rest of the public transport network, building new and improved infrastructure and using the best technology to ensure Greater Christchurch continues to be a great place to live as it grows.”
Environment Canterbury Chair Peter Scott also endorses the future-focused approach. “This work is essential to ensure the success of the country’s second largest city. We need Greater Christchurch to succeed – it’s vital, not just locally but regionally and nationally.”
Residents can find out more about this work, listen to webinars and complete the online survey here from this week to 26 March.
Feedback received will underpin the Mass Rapid Transit Indicative Business Case and the draft Greater Christchurch Spatial Plan. The draft Spatial Plan will be released for formal consultation later in 2023.