There is enormous potential to transform the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor into the jewel in Christchurch’s crown, creating a place for residents and visitors to explore, play, connect and learn.
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At 602 hectares, the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor regeneration area is three-and-a-half times larger than Hagley Park.
Although this will be a generational project that’s likely to take between 30 and 50 years to fully develop, we encourage people to visit and connect with the land that once held more than 5,000 homes.
Ōtākaro means ‘a place of play’ and was derived from Māori children who often played on the riverbanks during food-gathering (mahinga kai) times.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries the Ōtākaro Avon River was often used for recreation and boating, while trout-fishing being a popular past-time until fish numbers dwindled due to a decline in their food source and water quality from stormwater and wastewater entering the catchment.
Water quality is a high priority for the Council and we’re concentrating on improving the quality of the Ōtākaro Avon River’s water. Prior to the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes, the area was home to thousands of people, communities, businesses and schools.
The earthquakes severely affected the area, with the Government classifying the 602 hectares as a residential red zone. This meant the land had experienced significant and extensive damage, there was uncertainty about the success of any potential engineering solution given ongoing seismic activity, and repairs would be disrupted and protracted for property owners, impacting on their health and wellbeing.
Within the red zone area, the owners of almost 5,500 properties accepted Crown offers to purchase their properties and remove them from the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor.
Regenerating the 602-hectare Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor is a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a legacy that benefits future generations. Stretching from the city to the sea, the 11km regeneration area contains streets, lawns and gardens that used to make up people’s properties.
The area’s potential is exciting and could provide a range of environmental, social and commercial benefits, as we explore ways to protect homes from the effects of climate change and sea-level rise, and make the Ōtākaro Avon River a healthier place for people and wildlife.
Transforming the area into a valuable asset for Christchurch won’t happen overnight. Given the scale of the Regeneration Area (it’s three-and-a-half times bigger than Hagley Park), and the costs of implementation, we estimate it will take 30-50 years to complete this development.
The Green Spine will form the core of the regeneration area. At 11km long, it will follow the Ōtākaro Avon River and feature swathes of restored native habitat, trails, paths, footbridges, community spaces, and riverside landings that provide access to the water and local information about the area.
Work on the Green Spine is already under way; with the help of a grant from the Christchurch Regeneration Acceleration Fund, we've completed the construction of three new foot/cycle bridges at Snell Pl, Medway St and Avondale to improve community connections.
We also completed the construction of a riverside landing at Dallington (pictured above) in March 2022.
View the Regeneration Plan’s Greenprint(external link) of how the entire Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor could look in the future.
The first step will be rezoning the 300-hectare future Green Spine area to allow for its future development.
This will need to be done using either the Christchurch District Plan or the Greater Christchurch Regeneration Act 2016, so that the Regeneration Plan can take effect.
Engineering reports and decisions about stopbank and stormwater basin placement is under way. This will need to be completed so that stopbank construction and placement is carefully considered and doesn’t preclude any other land uses.
The Council will also develop a staged process for the planting, construction and implementation of the Green Spine.
Between 2017 and 2019 Crown-and-Council-funded planning organisation Regenerate Christchurch commissioned a significant number of reports and assessments and undertook extensive community and stakeholder engagement to develop a draft Regeneration Plan for the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor(external link). This plan was approved by the Minister for Greater Christchurch Regeneration, Megan Woods, in August 2019.
Christchurch City Council submitted investment cases to both the Crown and the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal Trust for funding to kick-start the development of the Regeneration Area, and received $40 million from the Canterbury Regeneration Acceleration Fund and $13.7 million from the Appeal Trust.
The riverside Dallington Landing, Snell Bridge, Avondale Bridge and Medway Bridge have all now been installed and are open to the public. Council are in the planning stage for the placement of stop-banks, ecological areas and riverside trails within the Green Spine.
Council is currently creating a large wetland and stormwater management area near Waitaki St (Bexley) and is also investigating early physical/enabling works around stopbank repairs and wetland creation at Waikākāriki (Horseshoe Lake).
Work has also begun on the design and placement of the City To Sea pathway, and there’ll be opportunities to have your say on this 11km-long cycle/pedestrian route in the near future.
On July 1 2020, the Council took over the management of the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor. This includes maintenance, plant and animal pest management, security, traffic management, communications and land access.
LINZ (Land Information New Zealand) is in the process of handing over packages of the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor land to the Council as its staff configure thousands of land titles into super-lots.
The responsibility for consolidating the land titles was part of the Global Settlement Agreement negotiations that have been completed.
It was agreed that before any development can take place in the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor, LINZ needed to undertake the important project of reconfiguring nearly 5,500 land boundaries. This is happening progressively, with the land delivered to Council in tranches.
This process is expected to take about two years.
Three new footbridges have been installed at Medway St, Richmond, Snell St, Dallington, and at Avondale. The last of these, Snell Place, was officially opened in May 2022. A riverside landing at Dallington was completed and opened in March 2022.
The Council will not automatically remove existing infrastructure, such as roads and pipes.
We need to work through thousands of easements on titles and consider what’s required. We’ll consider removing buried infrastructure, such as pipes and cables, on a case-by-case basis.
Our obligation is to continue providing Council services to those who have opted to continue living within the Regeneration Area. If required, we’ll seek to engage with these private property owners in the future.
The approved Regeneration Plan has not included a flatwater facility, as it was found not to be the best, most effective use of the land.
However, in October 2021 the Council agreed that staff can look further (external link)into a proposal from Christchurch’s flatwater sports groups to reconfigure the course of the Ōtākaro Avon River along Kerrs Reach(external link), and to relocate their on-land facilities to more suitable land directly across the river from their current base at Porritt Park.
The proposal would enable the Council to repurpose the Porritt Park site for a future riverside landing.
Potentially, the proposal to alter the course of the Ōtākaro Avon River could create an ecological island sanctuary, increase the īnanga spawning habitat in the area, and improve the safety of people who regularly use and train on that section of the river.
The Council’s global settlement report (Section 14.1.2) outlines that from 1 July 2020, $2.7 million has been budgeted annually for maintenance, plus rates, for all of the residential red zones. As also noted in the Council report in section 14.1.1, capital costs have been budgeted for some time.
The amount that has been budgeted is enough to cover this maintenance.
As part of the Global Settlement Agreement, Council has agreed to a co-governance structure with community groups and community boards regarding transitional uses within the regeneration area.
The future governance of the regeneration area is an important conversation that needs careful thought. We are working with our strategic partners, stakeholder groups and community representatives, and in December 2021 the Council agreed that the co-governance entity will comprise equal representation(external link) by Ngāi Tūāhuriri and the Council. Some of the Council’s representatives on the new entity, however, will be appointees drawn from local communities.
Council staff are working on advice on the legal process for establishing the co-governance entity.
In January 2020 former Councillor Chrissie Williams was appointed chair of the Christchurch Red Zones Transformative Governance Group (Te Tira Kāhikuhiku) that’s comprised of community members, iwi and local community boards.
The group will provide advice and make recommendations to the Council and Government on initiatives, ideas and activities to transform the city’s red zone land in Brooklands, the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor, Southshore, South New Brighton and the Port Hills.
For more information contact Dave Little, Residential Red Zone Manager, and Courtney Reid, Community Partnership Ranger, on firstname.lastname@example.org.
The community played a pivotal role in the development of the draft Regeneration Plan.
Continuing to work closely with the community is a high priority for the Council as we begin developing the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor and creating an incredible asset for both the city and New Zealand. Any public engagement opportunities will be published on our Have Your Say page(external link).
We’re working with a range of public partners to deliver the Regeneration Plan’s vision for the area.
Holds the rangatiratanga, or tribal authority, to more than 80 per cent of the South Island. The tribal council, was established by the Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Act 1996 to be the tribal servant, protecting and advancing the collective interests of the iwi. The Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor is an area of cultural significance to Te Rūnanga.
Delivering Crown-led anchor projects in Central Christchurch and divesting the balance of Crown land. The organisation has developed the walkway and landing in the eastern-most part of the OARC, between Barbadoes St and Fitzgerald Ave.
The city’s economic development and city profile agency charged with igniting bold ambition, excitement, connecting change-makers, stimulating economic activity and attracting visitors to Ōtautahi Christchurch.
Canterbury’s regional council and enables sustainable development across the region. ECan has six broad portfolios that its projects sit under air quality, biodiversity and biosecurity, freshwater management, hazards, risk and resilience, regional leadership, and transport and urban development.
LINZ is reconfiguring property titles before ownership of this land is transferred. The reconfiguration work is extensive and includes things like surveying, road stopping, creating easements and removing redundant interests.
As the landowner, LINZ can agree to short-term leases and licences of this land under section 91 (1)(b) of the Greater Christchurch Regeneration Act 2016.
This responsibility will progressively transfer to the Council as part of the Global Settlement Agreement, once ownership of the land is transferred.
Transitional or transformative projects (community events and initiatives with a temporary life-span) provide a great opportunity for communities to reconnect with the land and river.
They range from one-off events to longer-lasting activities of up to five years. All should create vibrancy and support regeneration by improving the environment, experience and activity in the red zones, or address sustainability or ecological issues.
A Red Zones Transformative Governance Group (Te Tira Kāhikuhiku) helps decision making on contestable grant funding for initiatives, ideas and activities intended to transform the city’s red zones, and makes land-use recommendations to Land Information New Zealand (LINZ).
The Christchurch City Council has a $282,000 fund that enables people to activate community projects and events in the city’s former residential red zones. Find out more or apply to have a project funded by the Red Zone Transitional Use Fund.
LINZ continues to manage any transitional land uses for up to six months and enquiries in the former residential red zones. For more information email email@example.com.
For transitional land uses for more than six months, or for more information contact Dave Little, Residential Red Zone Manager, and Courtney Reid, Community Partnership Ranger, on firstname.lastname@example.org.