CERA unveiled the Christchurch City Recovery Plan on 31 July 2012.  The Recovery Plan builds on the draft Central City Plan, released by the Council in late 2011, and proposes a vision for Central Christchurch to become "the thriving heart of an international city".  The Recovery Plan defines the form of the central city, identifies the locations of key anchor projects and outlines block plans of the future CBD.

Pursuant to the CER Act, from the time of notification of the Plan, officials exercising powers under the RMA (ie resource consent, plan change and planning decisions) must not make decisions inconsistent with the Recovery Plan. 

Proposals of interest include:

  • The Recovery Plan creates a more compact core for the central city with commercial, retail, hospitality, residential and other development attracted by public investment in key "anchor" projects.  The identified "Core" broadly encompasses the block bounded by Durham St, Saint Asaph St, Madras St and the Avon River to the west.  Surrounding this core, three particular precincts are identified (East Frame, South Frame and North Frame) as well as "urban gateways" in the north-west and south-east to provide entry points to the central city.
  • The Recovery Plan envisages a low-rise central city with high quality urban design.  All proposed buildings within the core will be assessed to ensure they are attractive, safe and functional.
  • The Core aims to concentrate commercial and retail development, with a variety of residential development, in the central city.  "Anchor" projects in the Core include an earthquake memorial, a cultural centre, development of the square, a retail precinct, a convention centre precinct, health precinct, performing acts precinct, residential demonstration project, indoor stadium and metro sports facility.  The Recovery Plan intends these various precincts to be walkable and well connected.
  • The Recovery Plans intends for the retail precinct to create a "unique and distinctive shopping experience".  CERA has indicated it will work with the private sector to facilitate options for development of the retail precinct.  The Recovery Plan envisages continuous shopping frontages in the Core, pedestrian friendly streets, markets and quarters, giving the impression of a preference for niche / boutique retail space.

The Recovery Plan outlines an indicative project delivery schedule, including projects to be completed in the transitional recovery phase.  Incentives are offered for creative and high quality transitional projects to improve the amenity and environment of central Christchurch in this transitional phase. 

As an appendix to the Recovery Plan, a further document outlines the amendments to Christchurch City Council's District Plan directed as a result of the Recovery Plan.  Changes to the regulatory approach include changes to zoning, permitted activities, building height limits and urban design guidelines.  Changes attempt to streamline the consenting process and enhance urban design and public spaces.