A well-designed central city is the key to a functioning and welcoming space where people want to live, work and play.

The design concept for the Recovery Plan was the development of a greener, more accessible city with a compact core and a stronger built identity.

Topic

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Key findings

Distinctive and unique features of central city No trend discernible
NoTrendDiscernible
The top three features which residents considered made the central city unique were the Botanic Gardens, Hagley Park and Margaret Mahy playground. Further information.
Satisfaction with look and feel of streetscapes and open spaces Increasing trendIncreasingTrend In 2018, 59 per cent of respondents were satisfied or very satisfied with the look and feel of streetscapes and open spaces in the central city. Further information.
Satisfaction with look and feel of new buildings No trend discernible
NoTrendDiscernible
In 2018, 64 per cent of respondents were satisfied or very satisfied with the look and feel of new buildings in the central city. Further information.
Location and type of business activity Fluctuating trend
FluctuatingTrend
Businesses which draw people in to public places (such as retail, hospitality, service and entertainment businesses) are located in pockets throughout the central city. Further information.
Business activity by time of day InformationInformation In 2017, the central city had the most business activity taking place during weekdays between the hours of 9 am and 5 pm.

Activity is dispersed throughout the central city, reflecting the clustering of certain businesses. Further information.

Distinctive and unique features

The central city needs to have a variety of features which contribute to its unique identity and sense of place. The natural environment features highly as contributing to the special nature of the central city.

The Life in Christchurch survey asks residents to select the top three features they consider make the central city distinctive and unique. For the second consecutive year, the top five responses remained the same.

The Botanic Gardens and Hagley Park were rated the highest, at 36 per cent and 26 per cent respectively in 2018. Margaret Mahy Playground was considered the third top feature, with one quarter of respondents selecting this option, followed by rivers and streams (24 per cent).

The now closed Re:Start Mall was ranked fifth (over 20 per cent of responses) as making the central city distinctive and unique.

Streetscapes and open space

The 2010-2011 Canterbury Earthquake Sequence had an enormous impact on the central city and its environment. Public spaces in the central city continue to be redeveloped and improved.

In 2018, 59 per cent of Life in Christchurch survey respondents were satisfied or very satisfied with the look and feel of streetscapes and open spaces in the central city. This increased from 55 per cent in 2017.

New building design

New building practices and developments have changed since the earthquakes, in terms of safety requirements, future-proofing, aesthetic design, site integration and tenant needs.

In 2018, 64 per cent of Life in Christchurch survey respondents were satisfied with the look and feel of new buildings in the central city. This was very similar to 2017 (63 per cent).

Location and type of business activity in the central city

The design and use of buildings ground floor frontages has a high impact on the attractiveness and ease of use of the central city. Ideally, ground floor frontages are active, rich in detail and exciting to walk by. Active frontages generally relate to retail, service and food and entertainment activities.  

The Ground Floor Activity survey showed that in 2001, 48 per cent of ground floor frontages in the central city were retail, service, food or entertainment businesses. Around 28 per cent related to other activities such as offices or fenced off areas, 16 per cent was taken up by car parking, and 7 per cent were occupied by vacant buildings. 

Generally these proportions stayed relatively consistent until the earthquakes, with a slight decrease in the proportion of retail and service frontages, while food and entertainment gradually increased. There was also an increase in vacant buildings following the global financial crisis (GFC). 

As expected, the earthquakes had a significant impact on the central city ground floor activity, with much lower levels of ground floor activity than before the earthquakes.

In 2017, retail, service, food or entertainment businesses made up 20 per cent of ground floor frontages in the central city. This is less than half of the pre-earthquake proportion. Unsurprisingly, after the earthquakes many of these active premises were demolished and by 2017, if they had not been rebuilt, they were generally either vacant lots or under construction.

Between 2010 and 2017, retail frontages decreased from 6.2 kilometres to 3.5 kilometres; service frontages from 3.6 kilometres to 1.1 kilometres; and food and entertainment frontages from 4.7 kilometres to 3.1 kilometres.

In terms of location, while the central city is rebuilding following the destruction of the earthquakes, active frontages which people are likely to interact with are quite dispersed throughout the central city.

There are several clusters around New Regent Street, Victoria Street, Cashel Mall, St Asaph Street, the Innovation precinct (around Tuam and High Streets), South City shopping area, and the supermarkets along Moorhouse Avenue. There is not yet much activity between these clusters to engage or make people feel safe.

Central city activity by time of day

In 2017, opening hours information was collected for retail, service, food and entertainment businesses, as these are the business types that pedestrians are likely to interact with and are important for providing and attracting activity on the streets. This information was collected for each day of the week but has been summarised to weekdays, Saturday and Sunday daytime, evenings and nights

The city is at its busiest between the hours of 9 am and 5 pm for each day of the week, especially from Monday through to Friday, when the most number of businesses are open. Sunday is the 'quietest' day, with the least activity taking place.

As it gets later into the evening and later at night, the number of pedestrian-generating businesses which are open decreases. Saturday nights see a peak in the number of businesses open after 9 pm (83 counted), compared to an average of 63 on other nights of the week.

Key night time 'hotspots' include the hospitality precincts of Victoria Street, New Regent Street, and St Asaph Street. Other hospitality areas are spread throughout the central city (e.g. Hereford Street, High Street, various lane ways, and north and south Colombo Street). Other areas include two large supermarkets on Moorhouse Avenue and a petrol station/fast food outlet on Madras Street.