Thursday 11 August 2011

Christchurch City Plans

I've had a quick flip through Council's proposed new city plan.

My first impression on reading through it: a city that looked like the one they're projecting would be a nice place to live.

My second impression on reading through it: there are outcomes that can be achieved through evolved distributed processes that cannot be achieved through direction.

The end goal they're seeking is laudable: a vibrant city core that would be a great place to live and a great place to work. But boy, some of the ways of getting from here to there. A few things that made me cough:

  • Restrictions on development in the suburbs for the next five years to encourage investment in the core instead.
  • Designated retail and other precincts that cannot but ride pretty roughshod over the wishes of existing property owners. 
  • Building height restrictions downtown that are conditional on Green Building certification; a thousand "Green Star" or "Green Light" buildings as a target. Financial incentives for roof-top gardens.
  • Dedicated light rail running from downtown to the University, with plans for a broader light rail network. Projected total system construction cost $1.8 billion plus ongoing running costs. 
  • Flipping St.Asaph/Lichfield from one-way to two-way will eliminate a really effective east-west thoroughfare. If bus and rail uptake are less than planners expect, congestion along Moorhouse, Bealey and Brougham will substantially be worsened. Flipping to mass transit just isn't a great option for folks with multi-destination trips.
There's a lot of nice stuff in the proposal too. But the whole thing still has rather more of a SimCity feel to it than I'm comfortable with.


  1. To be fair, the light rail system between downtown and the university is budgeted at *only* 410 million plus running costs (1.8 billion would be for he whole city). According to this news, earlier this year Auckland put an order for 120 buses for 51 million. Anyway, the light rail system sounds like an incredible stupid way to waste money.

  2. That's $3600 per household for the initial rail link. Median household income is $48k.

    Is it plausible that it's worth 7.5% of median household income? Somebody's gonna have to pay for this thing, and I'd be really really surprised if it could run at a profit after having been built if it is built.