Next week five Christchurch City Councillors will go to Melbourne on a fact-finding mission to study central city revitalisation and transport planning. This will include the opportunity to talk to the city’s leading urban and transport planners. This follows on from an earlier trip to San Francisco by another group of Councillors. For those who doubt the concept of a central city or the viability of having one in the future Christchurch, they need only go to a city like Melbourne to see why such ideas should be thrown out the window. It is undoubtedly the keystone to Melbourne’s current success and status.
Melbourne might well be almost ten times the size of Christchurch, but this will matter little. The five Councillors will be able to see first hand what an asset a strong and vibrant central is and also how a city achieves it. They will see plenty of space for pedestrians, mixed use developments, plenty of green space, a mixture of old and new, and of course good transport connections between the central city area and the rest of the city. Given the scale of Melbourne some of the details might be slightly irrelevant; for example I don’t think an underground electrified rail line is something they might look at and go ‘yep that’s what Christchurch should do’. Rather they will look the whole concept of having good public transport connections and infrastructure in the city and how it has helped create the successful revitalised central city they have. Melbourne also shows what can be achieved with trams and light-rail and how they can be used aid the revitalisation of communities, which is something very relevant to Christchurch, if on a bigger scale.
Despite the size difference, Melbourne does have a lot of similarities to Christchurch. Both cities have a very similar layout, are very spread-out for their populations, and even look similar. When looking at how Christchurch might revitalise its central city, Melbourne is therefore probably a very good place to look at and see what they have done to achieve what they have. In late July I will be going there for a brief visit myself and will have a good look around and hopefully get some photos.