14 Nov 2018

The draft regeneration plan for the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor is now open for public comment.

The plan, which sets out the future of the red zoned land along the Avon River, is being publicly notified today by Regenerate Christchurch.

“The draft plan demonstrates a bold commitment for Christchurch to a holistic approach to improve water quality in the area, better protect communities from flooding, ensure future generations can experience mahinga kai and create a restored natural environment open to all, that connects people, the river and the land. The draft plan is also practical, flexible and, over time, affordable,” says Regenerate Christchurch Chair Sue Sheldon.

Ms Sheldon says if the draft plan is approved by the Minister for Greater Christchurch Regeneration, achieving the vision will require long-term investment and commitment from multiple parties.

“The Crown and the Christchurch City Council, as owners of about 98 per cent of the land in the river corridor, will decide who will govern and have accountability for realising the vision; future ownership of the land; and how and when funding commitments will be made.

“As these decisions are made, the community will have greater certainty about when it can expect to see development begin and the scale of that development.”

Ms Sheldon says the draft plan sets out how the land could be used in the future and the steps required to transform the area over the coming decades.

Because regeneration of the river corridor area will be inter-generational, the draft plan allows for changes in community needs and priorities, and potential land uses and activities which may emerge, over the course of the next 30 years.

It is also proposed in the draft plan that the vision and objectives that have informed its development be the touchstone for considering any new ideas for the area in the future.

The vision and objectives were developed in consultation with the community, which put forward 5000 ideas for regenerating the area, and drew on the findings of a community needs survey conducted by Nielsen.

The survey found for the regeneration area that 83 per cent of people surveyed prioritised groundwater quality and 72 per cent prioritised water quality in rivers, streams, lakes and wetlands.

Ms Sheldon says a 2.2 kilometre out-of-river flatwater facility is not shown in the draft plan because extensive technical analysis and independent research has determined that its formation would be inconsistent with the required area for stormwater treatment and desire to protect groundwater resources.

Its environmental impact would also be inconsistent with the vision and objectives, and Regenerate Christchurch’s assessment shows the possible benefits would not outweigh the potential risks and likely impacts.

“The amount of aquifer water needed every year to keep a 2.2 kilometre out-of-river flatwater facility free of algal bloom would equate to about 10 Belfast water bottling plants,’’ Ms Sheldon says.

“Further, Christchurch’s aquifer water supply is fully allocated in this location and changes to the Land and Water Regional Plan would likely be needed to enable the significant water take required.”

However, the draft plan does acknowledge the demand for more space for flatwater sports in Christchurch - particularly for training purposes - and allows for the widening and deepening of the river in some locations - including the creation of a 1000 metre local regatta course by widening Kerrs Reach.

The draft Regeneration Plan is available on the Regenerate Christchurch website. Hard copies are available for reading at Regenerate Christchurch (Level 1, Building 2, 181 High Street, Christchurch), as well as Waimakariri District Council, Selwyn District Council and Christchurch City Council offices, service centres and libraries.

The public can provide written comment to Regenerate Christchurch online and via email or post up to and including 19 December.