Monday, 16 May 2011

Rule by comment thread

Somebody quipped recently that we should read the comments threads on news articles and despair for democracy.

With that in mind, here are some of the suggestions for rebuilding downtown Christchurch. It's high time that folks other than the Czars get a say in what will happen downtown. And public input's pretty important for some parts of town planning. But a lot of the comments ride pretty heavily on the rights of existing property and building owners. We need to remember that only half the buildings downtown are likely to be demolished. And even demolished buildings still have owners.

I don't know what final cityscape is best. But I'm pretty sure that none of the commenters do either. Should we have mandated mixed use buildings, with apartment lofts over shops on pedestrian-only cobblestone paths? High density apartments within walking distance of commercial areas? Bans on industrial tenants like autobody shops? I've my own preferences, but I don't know why they ought to have any more weight than anyone else's; I especially don't know why they ought to supercede the plans of the folks who own property downtown.

I try to think about frameworks that can encourage decent outcomes. Keeping a loose zoning framework making it easy to build different types of buildings - residential, commercial, even light industrial - and encouraging early posting of plans so people can plan around others' plans doesn't seem a bad way of going about things. Designating cultural and commercial precincts... I'd be a bit more sceptical.


  1. I hope you included "Make room for IKEA" in the wishlist.

  2. And why people insist on "rebuilding" the university in the city center? Let's move academics every few months to improve their productivity... not even mentioning the size of our facilities and some of the stuff we keep in labs.

  3. @Luis: Less "make room" and more "make clear that no zoning obstacles exist".

    Glad that Carr ruled out a move back downtown. I trust that his comments about a med school related to the U Otago / hospital campus rather than to any prospective Canterbury med school. We can't afford one for starters. And TEC would likely shoot it down anyway as there are already two of them....