Christchurch people tonight were watching the unfolding of a plan for a city they love and call home and a central city that means so much to them - and its all been done in secret with no input from any of the residents or indeed the elected representatives of the city .
They are keen to get certainty and movement. And action. And an end to just demolition.So there is a good sense of excitement. Elements of the plan are glorious- some wonderful.
It's actually a bit strange to watch it all being unveiled with a total absence of women in the team ...and this aspect was commented on by a number of the people around us. The city is strangely 'blokey ' at present.
So as the top secret design for the central city facilities were unveiled, we knew there was going to be a number of hubs - we had known what they were ...but we didn't know where each component part was going to be.
The proximity of the Convention Centre to the Square was interesting..the library in the Square very good -exciting. Christchurch has a very high library membership. And it is a loved part of the city.
The stadium close to town was a surprise, and the fact that it may be covered and seat up to 35,000 seemed strange given the fact that rugby couldn't even get near to filling its new rugby stadium a week back when the Crusaders were playing a key game, was astonishing. No budget attached to anything...so that may change perhaps.
The green "frame' around the city is really interesting,potentially stunning.
Green space around the seriously shrunk CBD heart... Not much room for retail but very welcoming green space that makes walking or relaxing in town look very attractive.
The setback from the river with the river now built into the fabric of the city makes good sense. It also has an element of inevitability given the difficulty of rebuilding in that space.
There's one relatively small demonstration housing zone ...but otherwise no mention of housing - and no educational focus either...although we knew that.It was an omission before that has been carried over.
While it wasnt highlighted, it was surprising- some here said astonishing( others used much stronger language) to see that the idea that some sports bodies had come up with for a new cricket pavilion in Christchurch's beloved Hagley Park was also included. So the plan provides a pavilion, lighting and seating for up to 20,000 in Hagley Park .
This will make asset sales seem popular!
Given how many ( read few!) people cricket attracts, its incursion into Hagley Park is bizarre. In fact it wouldn't even matter if it attracted tens of thousands, Hagley Park is held very dear and you build in it at your peril.
People in Christchurch genuinely love, and get very animated about, Hagley Park. In a city where so much has been destroyed the peace and tranquiliity of Hagley Park has been a place of solace to so many Cantabs. A cricket pavillion does not and cannot belong there.Watch that space for major protests.
Its not an easy feeling watching someone design your city in this one-off opportunity to do so. There is a point beyond which Governments should not go. And even though they are putting up some serious money in Christchurch they need to remember that transparent processes will be their, and the local community's, best protection.
The EQC has failed so badly because its processes are anything but transparent. By that we mean the person you talk to , who are often delightful, literally cannot see your claim or where it is...so the frustration was designed in to the system.
The learning from the EQC should be that the processes can no longer be opaque. So , we've gotten to here... but time seriously to involve the people who live here and call this city home