A vibrant residential population helps support business growth and development, and creates a high level of activity day and night. The recovery of the central city is vital for the economic recovery of Christchurch and the wider region.

Suburban and rural centres play an important role in providing accessible services for communities and are a focal point for social and economic activity. Well-designed centres are people focused, providing social hubs which meet the needs of the community.

What this means for our district

  • More people, including families, live in the central city.
  • The central city is a place residents, workers, and visitors enjoy being.
  • The central city is a diverse and prosperous business centre.
  • Well-designed public spaces enhance the central city and draw people in, day and night.
  • Suburban and rural centres are well-designed and meet the needs of the community, providing appropriate local services, employment, and opportunities for social interaction.

How we are contributing

We are coordinating a cross-agency Central City Promotion Group to help market the central city as a great place to visit, work, invest and live. Council are working hard to improve the condition, safety and accessibility of streets and public spaces in the central city.

Several suburban centre master plans have funding to improve their streetscape. A new central city Residential Programme is in development, and the Enliven Places Programme is supporting activity in the central city and along the Ōtākaro Avon River. We are also  coordinating a programme to promote, support and build social innovation and social enterprise in Christchurch.

How you can help

Come and explore what's new in the central city, and support local businesses. Get involved in events and support Gap Filler(external link) and other organisations that help bring life to the city.

Take a look at the Shape your place(external link) toolkit which explains how you and your community can work with Council to enhance your neighbourhood and bring your ideas to life.

How we are doing

Status What do we want to achieve? What has happened?
Mixed result
Mixed Results

More people living in the central city

At June 2017, there were 5860 people living in the central city. This is 2400 fewer than before the earthquakes. Further information.

Mixed result
Mixed Results

Satisfaction with the range of things to do in the central city

Over 60% of respondents agreed there is a range of things to do in the central city for everyone, and also specifically for families and children. Further information.
Mixed result
Mixed Results

Christchurch residents visiting the central city

Although the proportion of Christchurch residents visiting the central city at least once a week for non-work purposes increased from 31% to 38% between 2016 and 2018, less than half of the city's residents are visiting the central city this frequently. Further information.
Mixed result
Mixed Results
Visitors from outside of Christchurch are staying in the central city In 2018, guest nights in the four avenues were 58% of the level they were pre-earthquakes. However, guest nights have increased by 337% since 2012. Further information.
Positive result
PositiveResult
Overall visitor experience in Christchurch Visitors rate their overall experience of Christchurch as 8.5 out of 10, and have consistently rated it at over 8 since 2013/14. Further information.
Negative result
Negative Result
Employment in the four avenues Employment in the central city at February 2017 was 30,000. This is still 20,000 lower than pre-earthquakes. Further information.
Positive result
PositiveResult

Retail sales in the four avenues

Retail sales in the four avenues have increased by 26% since June 2012 to reach $810 million by June 2018 (excluding motor vehicle and fuel sales). Further information.
Positive result
PositiveResult

Satisfaction with new buildings, streetscapes and open spaces

64% of respondents are satisfied with the look and feel of new buildings, while 59% are satisfied with the look and feel of streetscapes and open space in the central city. Further information.
Mixed result
Mixed Results

Safety in the four avenues

Over 90% of people feel safe in the central city during the day, however this proportion decreases to 48% after dark. Further information.

People living in the central city

Before the 2010–2011 Canterbury Earthquake Sequence, the estimated population in the central city was 8,280 at June 2010. 

The impact of the earthquakes on the housing stock resulted in the population declining to a low point in 2014 with 5060 people. As a result dwellings have been rebuilt, repaired and new developments, the population has increased by 800 people to reach an estimated 5860 people at June 2017.   

The Central City Recovery Plan(external link) noted that most successful central cities around the world have between 3% and 6% of the city's population living within the central city. For Christchurch, this means between 11,000 and 22,000 people. In 2017, 1.5% of Christchurch residents lived inside the four avenues. 

Since 2011, there have been 450 dwellings replaced, and 600 new dwellings granted consents in the four avenues.

Satisfaction with the range of things to do in the central city

In 2018, 64% of respondents to the Life in Christchurch survey were satisfied with the range of things to do in the central city for all people, compared with 60% in 2017.

Slightly more (65%) felt there was a range of things to do specifically for families and children, which was lower than in 2017 (67%).

The proportion of people who felt there was not a range of things to do in the central city fell from 25% to 20% between 2017 and 2018. Those who felt there was not a range of things to do specifically for children and families remained at 14%.

Christchurch residents visiting the central city

Residents are visiting the central city for non-work purposes more frequently. In 2018, around 38% of residents visited the central city once a week or more for non-work purposes, compared with 31% in 2016.

The proportion of residents who visited two or three times a month increased slightly from 38% in 2017 to 40% in 2018. The proportion who reported they visited the central city less than once a month fell from 31% to 22% between 2016 and 2018. 

Visitors from outside of Christchurch are staying in the central city

Since 1998, the number of guest nights in commercial visitor accommodation such as hotels, backpackers and motels in the central city increased by around 62,000 per year, to peak before the earthquakes at 1.7 million guest nights per year (June 2010).

The earthquakes had a catastrophic impact on the accommodation capacity in the central city, especially on hotels and backpackers. As a result of this and the damage to the central city, guest nights decreased by 87% to 227,000 in 2012. Since then they have increased by 337% to 992,000 in the year ended June 2018.

Overall visitor experience in Christchurch

The overall visitor experience of Christchurch is likely to be influenced by their experience of the central city.  Visitors rated their overall experience of the City as 8.5 out of 10 in the summer of 2017/18.  This has generally been over 8 since the 2013/14 summer.

New Zealand and Australian visitors tend to rate their overall experience slightly higher than other international visitors.

Central city employment

Employment in the four avenues grew slowly from 46,000 at February 2000 to 53,600 in 2005. From this peak, the employment in the four avenues declined to 51,300 at February 2010 before the Canterbury Earthquake sequence.

The impact of the earthquakes can be seen in the 2012 year with a loss of 23,350 employees since 2010. After 2012, employment in the four avenues has grown by around 7,150 people to 35,100 in February 2017.  This is still two thirds of the pre-earthquakes employment level.

Retail sales in the four avenues

Retail sales (excluding motor vehicle and fuel sales) increased from $610 million in the year ending December 2012 to $854 million in December 2017. They have decreased slightly since then, at a total of $810 million for the year ending June 2018.

The central city industry with the greatest percentage growth since the year to June 2012 was food and beverage, with growth of 114%, followed by department and other, with 38% growth.

Satisfaction with new buildings, streetscapes and open spaces

Generally residents view the new buildings in the central city positively, with 64% satisfied or very satisfied with the look and feel of new buildings in the 2018 Life in Christchurch survey. Less than 20% were dissatisfied. These results were unchanged from 2017.

There was a lower but generally positive view of the streetscapes and open spaces (59% satisfied or very satisfied). This was an improvement from 55% in 2017.

Subsequently, there was a higher proportion dissatisfied or very dissatisfied at 21%; a very slight improvement from 2017. This is not surprising when many streets are still under repair and some of the newer open spaces such as Rauora Park in the east frame were not yet completed.

Safety in the four avenues

People feel safe in the central city during the day time, with over 90% saying they felt fairly or very safe in both the 2017 and 2018 Life in Christchurch surveys. 

However people's perceptions of safety at night are much lower with almost half (48%) stating they felt fairly or very safe in the central city after dark. In 2018, 11% stated they felt very unsafe after dark, an improvement from 14% in 2017.

The Quality of Life survey has similar findings for perceptions of safety after dark. In 2018, 48% of respondents felt a bit unsafe or very unsafe in the central city after dark. This has decreased from 63% in 2008. 

People reported feeling unsafe in the central city at night largely due to perceptions around unsafe people or unsafe environments.

In the 2018 Life in Christchurch survey, of those who indicated that they felt unsafe after dark, the most common reasons for feeling like this was due to people under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol (57% of those who felt unsafe at night), anti-social behaviour (52%) and isolated areas (47%). These results were all slightly improved from 2017.

There was a large increase in the proportion of respondents citing the presence of beggars and homeless people in the streets as a reason for feeling unsafe at night. In 2018, 33% of respondents said people begging made them feel unsafe at night, compared with 24% in 2017. Similarly, the proportion who reported homeless people caused them to feel unsafe increased from 27% to 38%.