Central city  |  3 Aug 2023

Tom Worthington understands the value of trees.

Sure, there are four less parking spots near his two cafes - Tom’s and Estelle - on Southwark Street in the Central City but he says the amenity provided by the trees is worth so much.  

“It’s just so great to have nice, established planting in the Central City,” Tom said.

“These trees and other plants are really lovely and I think quite different. They kind of feel like they might be in someone’s garden rather than on the street which is fun.”

Six new trees - five acer bowhall and one magnolia - have been planted along Southwark Street.  This is part of a broader project to improve amenity in the Central City as more and more residents and businesses move in.

Tom opened his first café on Southwark Street - aptly named Tom’s - in March 2022, before opening Estelle earlier this year.

He’s eagerly anticipating the trees’ new foliage in summer as the acer bowhall outside Tom's has dropped its leaves for winter. 

“Tom's is looking like it's had a nice wee makeover for spring.”

Christchurch City Council Head of City Growth and Property Bruce Rendall says Southwark Street is home to a wide range of businesses and new residential developments so was the perfect place to pilot additional planting.

“Previously there was very little landscaping so these trees, plus a nearby mural by Kophie Hulsbosch, are boosting the amenity of the area for the residents, visitors and workers.”

Mr Rendall said the Council tries to increase tree cover without impacting existing parking, however a parking audit showed the use of the Southwark Street parking spaces did not exceed 60%.

A full streetscape upgrade would have been very expensive.  Instead, the project was delivered through the Council’s Enliven Places Programme funding, which undertakes smaller scale amenity and activation improvements.  The Enliven Places Programme supports strategic initiatives such as the Central City Residential Programme, ‘Project 8011’.

“One of the key goals of Project 8011 is to have 20,000 people living in the Central City by 2028. The current focus is the south-east of the Central City, including Southwark Street, which has the greatest opportunity to grow,” Mr Rendall says.

The project also supports the Council’s proposed Urban Forest Plan, which aims to grow the city’s urban forest, with no ward having less than 15 per cent total canopy cover.