A Christchurch landscape architect does not believe plans for the new Christchurch CBD will respect the natural landscape and eco-systems of the area.

Di Lucas said the plans did not show any consideration for the natural land and she would be making a submission against the draft residential chapter Recovery Plan ‘ A Liveable City.’

She spoke about her concerns at the Winter Speaker Series hosted by the Christchurch Horticulture Society last Thursday (17 July 2014)

Ms Lucas was concerned the plans did not accurately reflect the natural eco-systems or natural patterns of the land in the city.

There were many water systems that flowed beneath the city but Ms Lucas felt the Christchurch City Recovery Plan did not recognise or take advantage of the natural water springs or land patterns in the CBD.

“The essence of any place is the land, so we can look at it and our response to it.

“People need to be reminded of the dynamics of the land.”

She said there were “no rules and no plans” about the pre-existing water-springs that were scattered across the city.  They had been covered up, which had been a problem with liquefaction during the earthquakes and the layout of the land had changed.

“You have to look at the natural supply and work with them.” (the water systems and land patterns)

Ms Lucas voiced her concerns that there was not any natural vegetation incorporated into the designs – she would like to see vegetation that already existed and was adapted to the Christchurch and Canterbury region – and not from other parts of the country.

She was worried where stormwater on the proposed four-lane Manchester St would go. There needed to be natural places for stormwater to be absorbed into the soil, instead of building up in drainage systems.

“We need to respect the way waste water can cleanse things and support natural eco-systems.

“I think streetscapes are important, using streets as a good place for people and the natural environment.”

Ms Lucas would like to see rooftop gardens and view-shafts for the city.

She believed the cultural and community thinking needed to change and planners and developers needed to recognise, respect and value natural eco-systems in their designs.

Christchurch had the chance to fix the city and make an innovative garden city for the future.

Halswell resident Athol McCully said he would be keen to have a more detailed look into the issues Ms Lucas had raised. “I think we need to ensure those things are re-explored.”

Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU) director Warwick Isaacs said the recovery plans sought to create a greener more attractive city.  The Avon River Precinct was a great example of the environmental work and one of the key designs was to ensure the river environment was healthy.

He said to make this happen the CCDU was looking at incorporating new street trees, improved surface storm water treatment and a new network of parks and other things into its plans to integrate nature into the central city.

“The tree planting programme reflects this goal, as well as the in-river works that include removing silt, and cleaning the water to encourage wildlife to return to the river. Other environmental work includes the installation of rain-gardens to deal with potentially polluted storm water runoff before it gets to the river.”

The aim of this work is to return the Avon River river back to its original, natural condition.

Mr Isaacs said the proposed living zones would not stop people from having rooftop gardens or specialist storm water treatment within their homes but that is for the market to pick up.

The draft residential chapter, A Liveable City is out for public comment until August 13.

Article: Hunter Calder