An article in The Press today says that food markets, street sculptures and residential developments could be part of the rebuild plan for Sydenham. Submitter’s showed they wanted Colombo Street more people-friendly by improving pedestrian access and adding street furniture, sculptures and trees.
My hope is that what may eventuate doesn’t reflect much of the ugly development that we have become used to here in Christchurch, with ugly box buildings isolated in a sea of car parks at least a hundred meters from the road (think Tower Junction). It seems the people, and even the Council, have made it clear that those kind of developments are out, although the pandering to such developments as Prestons does set a worrying precedent. Hopefully common-sense prevails and the kind of developments we see have character and are built up to the street-front to create a quality village like community.
Colombo Street through Sydenham does not necessarily have to be pedestrianised, but it would do wonders for it to be a pedestrian priority strip (i.e. wide footpaths, 30kph speed limit and minimum car parking). Most parking could be provided down side-streets and pedestrian access could be improved through a redesign of the railway overbridge (who would want to cross it in its current state?) to make it more pedestrian friendly and improve access to the CBD. Alternatively, new pedestrian-only railway overbridges could be built too, and could even aid better development of the land around the railway tracks themselves, such as an urban park, market place or square. That area has so much potential, I can’t believe all we have to show for it is some car yards and a Denny’s!
Some other ideas include resurrecting the Sydenham Square development on the old school site (I quite liked that one), using the site of the demolished Sydenham Heritage Church as a multi-use community space and developing the disused railway shed next to the overbridge as a community rail museum or food and crafts market (I guess that fits in with my idea to redevelop the land around the railway tracks). A lot of business from High Street also seems like it might head to Sydenham so that is a promising sign. Sydenham could well be quite a funky, vibrant, cosmopolitan hub in a few years. However, everyone has to be on the same wavelength.
The Sydenham community feedback presentation is on today from 6.30pm to 8pm, Sydenham Central Mall, 363 Colombo St.