In addition to discussion on the redevelopment of the Central City, workshops have also been held to discuss the future of Sydenham and Lyttelton, as the first two suburbs to be the focus of the Suburban Centres Programme. As with the Central City discussions, there seems to be a strong focus on mixed-use, pedestrianisation, and dealing with traffic issues. A master plan will now be drawn up, which will draw upon the feedback received at the workshops. Once a draft plan has been developed, it will be taken back to the community for feedback.
It is important that suburban centres are given attention, as without them Christchurch would just become a featureless expanse of residential sprawl. Like the Christchurch of the past, the future city will hopefully have a number of unique, accessible and vibrant suburbs. If these are to be places that people live, work and play in it will be important too for good public transport connections. The development of the suburban interchange ideas as a part of this programme would be something I would like to see happen, to help facilitate a more integrated public transport network and provide robust connections between the various suburban centres and the Central City.
It is quite hard to imagine that it was only a little over three months ago that things were utterly pear-shaped for Christchurch. The progress made in putting together these programmes and identifying what needs to be done has been exceptional, and the methods used have also been really innovative. Without a doubt there is still a long long way to go, but this has been a promising start.
UPDATE (4/6/2011): An article today on some promising signs that Sydenham could become the ‘new High Street’ of Christchurch. Well, hopefully it would become just one of many interesting places that are developed in the coming months and years, but it is another positive sign for the long suffering and quake hit inner-city suburb. Some high-end fashion stores and food outlets are apparently interested in locating there while the CBD is shut down, the intimate high street like setting of the suburb seemingly its main attraction. Who said you need big malls to attract business?