Posts by: Barnaby Bennett

A guide to Christchurch rebuild for the rest of NZ.

IMG_3962It is now four years since the first quake struck Christchurch in September 2010. There are bright-eyed four-year old children who know nothing of the pre-quake city, and students that have completed entire university degrees post-quake. It’s been a while.

Unfortunately much of the national discussion about Christchurch is still framed around the sympathy, empathy, help, support and need that was so necessary in the immediate days and months after the earthquakes. Yes there are still thousands of people struggling with insurance and EQC repairs. But what people need now is their policies to be fulfilled, and reform and legislation to make sure that happens, not others to feel sorry for them. The default pity narrative needs to stop. It distracts from the real issues such as the economic, planning and governance problems that continue to dominate the city.

This article has 3 sections: The Blueprint, The Money, and why your vote affects us all in Christchurch.

I write the brief words below not as a long-term Christchurch resident. I moved here at the beginning of 2012. I write this as someone trained in architecture and city-building. I’ve discussed Christchurch with dozens of urban design experts, planners, and designers in the past few years and almost all of them are stunned and disappointed when I explain to them how the process is being managed in Christchurch. The major concern is that the entire central city planning is being led by a very small team of insulated designers, politicians, and property owners, who are using extraordinarily powerful legislation to achieve their goals.

A group of us (with Ryan Reynolds, James Dann, Emma Johnson, and myself as editors) recently published the book Once in a Lifetime: City-building after Disaster in Christchurch. This book offers a 500-page investigation and critique of the Government’s Blueprint for Christchurch. We chose not to talk about the election in the book because it is looking at a much bigger picture, but now I feel the need to frame some of the contents around the election. The book has 55 essays, so this doesn’t represent all the views, but as an editor is does represent what I think.

I write this critique from the position that the involvement, confidence and trust of the public is absolutely critical for city-planning and design. There is an innate intelligence in the people that live in a city, and the publics that people form in response to the issues that arise. To exclude these publics, and to distrust them  (if there was trust then why are their views not included) as the government does is foolish. To suggest, as the Minister in charge has, that this can in any way be best practice or industry leading is at odds with the planning and design literature of the past 40 years.

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1. The Government’s Blueprint.

In 2011 the government asked the Christchurch City Council to develop a city plan for post-quake Christchurch. The CCC developed the now famous and award winning Share an Idea campaign and consulted broadly with the people of Christchurch, who generated over 100,000 ideas for the new city. This led to the release of the Council’s Draft City Plan in November 2011. At the beginning of 2012 Minister Brownlee rejected the spatial aspects of that plan and invited a new team of designers to work on what was to become the known as the 100-day Blueprint. Since the end of 2011 the people of Christchurch have had no opportunity to contribute or feed in or critique this document.

There have been mixed reviews of the plan, some see it is as a bold and necessary document (Canterbury Tourism), others as a promising too much, others wondered where the residential details were (Russell Brown), others that it ignored all the real problems facing Christchurch (NBR), and others as significant re-orientation of the post-quake city without due discussion with the people of Christchurch (me!).

It replaced a sophisticated set of instruments that the Council had developed to encourage good development and planning with 18 large government-led projects. You can see the details here.

Like any first draft of a document it has some really good bits and some questionable bits. It was a heroic effort to complete it in 100 days. The problem is not that the plan that was produced in 100 days; the real problem is the way that it has been implemented. There has been little or no consultation on the plan since its launch, massive projects like the $100 million dollar Avon-Otakaro park, or the $284m Convention Centre have had almost no public input or consultation. There has been no international peer review either. The designers that made the plan have been locked out of the process since it was launched and there has been little ability for it to adapt to the rapidly changing city.

Think about this for your own city. Imagine the government coming into the historic centres of Auckland or Wellington. Firstly they ignore the heritage fabric of the place and encourage the demolition of 80% of the city, then they over-rule the local council’s plan, then they use the full power of the state to compulsorily purchase land and implement a huge number of projects with little or no discussion with the public.

This is exactly what has happened in Christchurch. If it sounds a bit extreme then I think you understand it properly.

The Blueprint is being implemented by an agency completely separate and often conflicting with the local council. Instead of upgrading the Council’s original plan and working with them and their deep knowledge of the city, CERA (Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority) has replicated hundreds of positions, wasted millions of dollars and built a knowledge-base in competition rather than in collaboration with the city. (Brownwyn Hayward explains this well in her paper: Rethinking Resilience: Reflections on the Earthquakes in Christchurch, New Zealand, 2010 and 2011)

The Council on the other hand is showing a rare mix of strong leadership and a real desire to be transparent and engage with various communities in a respectful and meaningful way. They are using new online tools to get quicker and better information and are directly funding and supporting scores of important post-quake projects in a way that CERA has never done.

If you think about the great things that have happened in the city since the quakes, almost all of them would have happened without the plan: the stunning restoration of the Arts Centre, C1, the urban gardening projects, Re:Start mall, Gap Filler, The Festival of Transitional Architecture, Life in Vacant Spaces, EPIC, Share an Idea, Ministry of Awesome, Court Theatre, Isaac Theatre Royal, developments like the Terrace, and the insurance-led building boom.

If speed was the goal of the blueprint then it has failed as we are barely 10% rebuilt almost 4 years after the big quake and if quality is the goal of the blueprint then why did it lower the environmental and urban design standards that were present in the council’s original plan. It amounts to a kind of homeopathic remedy that claims success when the patient was getting going to get better anyway.

The problem with much of the media discussion around the rebuild is that so much of it is about the speed or progress of it. There is little or no nuanced discussion of the quality of the decisions. While people do need their houses fixed quickly there are huge transport, urban planning, and infrastructure decisions that need time and consultation to make right. For the next 20 – 50 years it is going to be the quality of the decisions, not the speed with which they are made, that makes the difference. CERA’s Roger Sutton has said the same thing. (see Roger Sutton’s article in the new book) Given this the exclusion of the public from the decision-making is mysterious, unwise, and deeply undemocratic.

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2. The money.

The full cost of the rebuild is around $40 – $50 billion dollars, and around $15 billion of this is government money, your money. This is as it should be and it would be disgrace if we ever neglected the need to care for a region of the country after a disaster of this scale.

However this money is not a one way deal, and it should not be seen as benevolence. Two of the main things growing the NZ economy at the moment are Canterbury based. The first is the massive expansion of dairy on the Canterbury plains, and the second is the enormous amount of insurance money coming into the city from insurance companies from overseas. The government is deeply involved in the dairy expansion (in that it was enabled by firing the elected regional Council in 2010), and has little to do with the latter, as these are contracts between individuals and insurance companies.

So let’s be clear that the economy of Canterbury is producing a significant amount of growth for the country at the moment. We all benefit from that.

Without the earthquake National’s much praised economy would have close to zero growth. “Truth is, the economic recovery is itself a myth. Take away the Christchurch rebuild and growth is nominally zero.” (Bruce Bisset. 6.09.2014)

While a large amount of money has been promised and spent by the Government to support post-quake Christchurch, (to fix the roads and pipes, to fund the central city, and many other activities), it is likely that the government will take in a very similar amount in taxes from GST and income tax. The GST on $40 billion is around $6 billion (and this continues to flow and money spreads through the economy), and a significant amount of the money is being spent on salary and wages that are taxed at various levels, if we pick a low figure of 20% then that is another $6.8 billion in tax take. So without even going into the broader tax take and economic gain around $13 billion will come back from the $15 billion spend.

“the wider New Zealand public need to recognise it’s not them just footing the bill for poor old Christchurch, it’s actually going to cost them very little.” The Government had been “strangely quiet in this department,” Gough said.”  (Alan Wood. The Press. 31.05.2014)

So there is every chance that the earthquakes will be a cost neutral exercise for the government. On this level it has been a large and well-timed stimulus package for the country to help it out of the recession. (Interesting that this is the kind of stimulus package that Labour proposed going into the 2008 election.)

The hard work of people of the citizens of Christchurch, businesses, institutions, and government spending in Christchurch have been a huge part of NZ emergence from recession. While there has been extraordinary support and care for Christchurch in the past few years, the economic investment in Christchurch shouldn’t be seen as charity.

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3. How you vote affects us all in Christchurch

The simple reality is that no great city has ever developed while being ruled by somewhere else. It doesn’t make sense and it doesn’t work.

In the months after the quakes extraordinary powers were necessary. But at some point these extraordinary powers need to go, and in Christchurch they are still in place 3.5 years after the big deadly quake. It’s too long. They are still being used to fast-track decisions around the local Council, they are still being used to demolish heritage buildings without consents or discussion, and still being used to progress projects like the $500 million dollar convention centre with no public business case or public input into public space.

There is little ability to offer nuanced and critical feedback on individual projects or planning decisions. The exceptions being the childrens playground which did great work with school kids. The population is forced to either embrace or reject the entire plan, and this further isolates and disengages people as they go through a difficult recovery from disaster. The Governments own science advisor Sir Peter Gluckman warned about this happening in 2011. 

The key problem here is that we aren’t able to express the complex issues, to have the important arguments, and to direct the city in the direction that people live here want because we are being ruled by a large government agency.

I don’t think this is disaster capitalism or a conspiracy of any sorts. Its the more mundane reality of an ideology that distrusts the public and favours the safety and comfort of projects led by politicians and project managers.

As an extension of cabinet and its executive power, this government agency (Canterbury Earthquake Reconstruction Authority) rules with the tacit consent of the rest of the country, and this is why your voice is important. When you vote during the next few weeks, please consider Christchurch.

The National government has basically admitted that the time for these extraordinary powers is over, but rather than give us a plan for it, they have decided to move CERA into the office of the PM, further shifting the power to Wellington and away from Christchurch.

This call to support a new government is not to reject everything that has been done. We can bank the good stuff, the hard work and tough decisions and acknowledge those how worked through this tough time, but we need to change tack to let the public back in, and to turn this rebuild process into the extraordinary opportunity it still promises to be.

It shouldn’t, but the outcome of this election will likely make a huge difference to how Christchurch is governed and will inform thousands of little decisions about how the city will feel and look in 10 years time. The city and its people have shown extraordinary capacity for growth, innovation, creativity and a strong vision for the city. The new council is heavy hitting and filled with skilled operators, and the rebuild is paying for itself. It shouldn’t depend on a national election to reclaim our governance back, but it does. And that is why your vote is important.

For further analysis of the relationship between Design and Democracy my essay is here: https://medium.com/@mrbarnabyb/design-and-democracy-339fa4688d70

And if for further information on the book please visit here: www.oncinalifetime.org.nz

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The little we know

A few weeks ago the PM was in Christchurch to present to launch of the partners for the new Convention Centre Precinct in the heart of central Christchurch. This large, expensive project has been mutely accepted as inevitable and part of the rebuild. Personally I don’t understand why there has not been more discussion of the project, and more analysis of what it means for the city and what it represents for the future of the city. The Government is refusing to offer any real information on the project, so a nuanced discussion is impossible. Below I have presented the facts as we know them.

What do we know about the convention centre:

1. It is going to be placed on two of the most important central city blocks in the city. Between Cathedral Square and the Avon River.

2. It uses land that has been compulsory acquired. That is the full force of the state to force land off its owners.

3. There is $284 million dollar of government/public money going into the project.

4. The total project will be around $500 million.

5. That means a public to private ratio of less than 1:1. International experience shows normal public private ratios should be from 5 and up to 10: 1 before been considered seriously.

6. The project will be built by a large consortium of companies, including a urban design firm Boffa Miskell that used to be owned by the head designer of the government agency running the project (the CCDU) Don Miskell.

7. The Carter Group is a major part of the consortium. Philip Carter is the brother of the speaker of the house and National Party MP David Parker.

8. The Minister in charge of the rebuild is refusing to give any information on the financial or contract information on the Convention Centre until after the election.

9. Convention Centres are almost never put in the centre of the city because they require very large access areas that become deadzones.

10. The entire centre will be operated by a very large internation French compary Accor, so presumably any profits will go overseas.

11. Publically owned streets and footpaths have been taken by the crown and included in this project. We don’t know if equivalent or better (and true) public space is going to be part of the design.

12. We know that contracts have been signed and construction is due to start in 2015.

13. The economic logic of Convention Centres is that they bring high-yield business customers into the city and the country. However most of the workers running the centres are low waged.

14. This isn’t the type of project that was asked for in the Share an Idea consultation 3.5 years ago. (The last time anyone was asked about the central city)

15. We do know that the CCC built a Convention Centre in just north of the Town Hall in 1997 for $15 million.  This new one is a little bit bigger and 25 times the cost.

What we don’t know:

1. The business case hasn’t been made public for the merits of this building.

2. We don’t know what the ownership model will be.

3. We don’t know what areas will be publicly accessible or usable. Convention Centres are like stadiums, they either really busy and you need to pay to get in, or huge and empty (most of the time)

4. Despite $284 million of public money, we don’t know what is going to be in it.

5. We don’t know what urban design characteristics it will have. How they will activate the edges? How will trucks enter the site? How much parking is part of the project?

6. The launch cost $16,000. You can see it here. We don’t know how you can possibly spend that much on a launch for around 50 people.

7. We don’t know why if this is project makes so much sense economically, it needs $284 million of public money?

8. We don’t know if there has been extensive economic research to see if a very large convention centre will work in Christchurch.

9. We don’t know who will be liable for the costs if it doesn’t work.

10. We don’t know how the spaces in this project fit into the broader ecosystem of venues and facilities in the city.

I find it very frustrating that these huge financial and planning decisions are being made with little critical examination or discussion.

The Politicisation of CERA and the planning of new Christchurch

This, strangely, is a crossback-cross-post originally published at Rebuilding Christchurch by Barnaby Bennett, chief egg of the Freerange Press and editor of the magnificent book “Christchurch: The Transitional City Part IV“. This is the first of an epic four-and-a-half-part analysis of the political machinations in Christchurch, and how they are influencing the rebuild. -Byron, Ed.

 

No government was ever going to be able to seamlessly respond to a crazy series of events like the earthquakes that hit Christchurch between September 2010 and the end of 2011.  It was an insanely complex and difficult event and the tangled nature of all the little parts mean the development of new ideas and plans and the construction of these is no easy task. Yet, this shouldn’t mean a pass card for our representatives. In this article I’ll argue, and explain, why I think the removal of the public from most of the rebuild process is a critical mistake both politically for the government and for the citizens of Christchurch.Read more

What’s going on with the Arts Precinct: Incompetence or Deceit?

In the last week there has been a long overdue rush of public announcements about the Performing Arts Precinct in Christchurch. These can be tidily split into categories of ‘why didn’t they announce this 6 months ago’, and the more bewildering ‘are you trying to make yourself look stupid?’.  I’ll explain this below, and by doing so try to work out a question that could easily apply to a number of projects in the city at the moment: is the current sad state of this project a result of incompetence or deceit? (It’s a long article, but there are specific recommendations at the end!)

I’ll start with the obvious announcement. The government has decided that a significant part of the area designated for the Arts Precinct is now no longer needed so they have wisely decided to remove the designation. This allows the owners of the land to avoid compulsory purchase of the land and to either sell the land or to develop what they want.  It has been obvious to everyone involved that this land was not needed for the arts precinct project with the Council’s repeated and consistent position to retain and repair the Town hall. For a department that has been given the mandate to improve the quality and speed of the rebuild it seems strange to tie up this bit of land for so long given that it has been known since late August last year when the Council voted unanimously (for the 2nd time) to retain the Townhall.  It was signaled long before this with the Council vote the previous year and the acknowledgment in the Cost Sharing Agreement between the CCC and CERA that the Town hall was likely to stay. This is from a famously fractured council, and not a single member voted against retention on two separate occasions.Read more

Save the Hundertwasser Gallery in Whangarei

I am seeking people to support a letter to the Whangarei District Councillors that are attempting to kill of the Hundertwasser Art Gallery Project in a council meeting tomorrow.  Please read this description and details are below.

A long planned (and debated) gallery designed by the late international Artist Hundertwasser is in danger of being dumped by the Whangarei District Council after some Councillors have put forward a proposal to remove it from the annual plan.  Their logic in doing this is that people have not been consulted about the project, yet they are trying to remove it from a document that will go for public consultation.

This is a project that offers huge financial and cultural opportunity for Whangarei, it has been supported by the last two mayoral candidates, the two sitting northland MPs Phil Heatley and Shane Jones (from both sides of the house) support the project.  Financial analysis of the project by Deloitte supports the councils position. A recent poll run by the local newspaper shows significant popular support for the project. And yet at a council meeting tomorrow a number of Councillors will attempt to vote this project out of the plan.

The total cost of the project is $13 million, of this the council has agreed to fund $8 million and a further $5 million will be raised seperately. $2 million of this amount has already being raised for the project.

One Councillor has stated that this money would be better spent on roads. To give a comparison the Wellsford to Puhoi road project is estimated to cost $760 million dollars, and the recently finished Te Matau a Pohe bridge cost $32 million dollars.

Another Councillor is worried this project will leave the WDC in a similar state to the Kaipara Council after that council misinvested in a sewerage project. The original budget for that project was $35 million and the total cost became $60 million. This is a small project compared to this and the construction of an art gallery is very predictable compared to a major sewerage system.

Spending $8 million on an Cultural project that will make Whangarei an international destination is a prudent decision and the current motion to cancel the project is unwise.

More about the project can be read here: http://www.wdc.govt.nz/FacilitiesandRecreation/Town-Basin/Pages/Hundertwasser-Art-Centre.aspx

If you would like your name attached to a letter that I am sending to the council to reject the motion being put forward by the Councillors: “That the Hundertwasser project not be included in this year’s annual plan and that staff be instructed to remove all reference to the Hundertwasser project in forthcoming workshops and annual plan drafts.” as being undemocratic and unwise can you please email me barnaby@projectfreerange.com tonight.

I will send the email first thing in the morning.  Can you please include your name and any fancy sounds positions you might hold. Also be great if you could say whether you grew up or had a connection to Whangarei.

 

 

 

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The amazing band Electric Wire Hustle features Freerange contributor Mara TK, and I’m delighted to see/hear they have released the debut track of their LOOOONG awaited new album. Epic. Tune.  Check it out.

 

 

Freerange is going to start featuring some more music as we seem to be surrounded by super talented people, music included.

Poster Winner

Congratulations to Geordie Shaw who is the winner of the competition to design a poster for the bird that Freerange is sponsoring for the NZ Bird of the Year Competition.  Geordie wins a subscription to Freerange Journal and $50 of cold hard cash!

Geordie’s winning entry:

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The official New Zealand Bird of the  Year competition launches soon….

Freerange on Tony Abbott: how gays make him uncomfortable, how to publicly insult dying men, and how lying is ok sometimes, or something…

Here is a selection of choice cuts from the mouth of soon to be Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Don’t say you were not warned!

This is an excerpt from Freerange Vol. 5: Dangerous and Wrong that was written late last year.

By Nick Sargent.

[download_box]Freerange Vol.5: Dangerous and Wrong can be downloaded here for free or bought from here. 
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We would like to take this opportunity to celebrate the future Australian Prime Minister for his imminent contribution to popular culture,  to get in while he is still a little bit underground and show we are not bandwagoners, but genuine cultural explorers here at FR. Whilst we know the last laugh will be on us, the prospective “Decider’’ has been revealing a talent for clumsily (or slyly, your call) insulting minority groups that is, at the very least, uncomfortably entertaining. He’s unfortunately a little too silver-tongued to ape like-minded idiot savant and meme producing tour de force George W, and therefore is unlikely to ever acknowledge “how hard it is for you to put food on your family’’ or take the opportunity to explain the value of life to “children living in, you know, the Dark Dungeons of the Internet’’. Nevertheless his carefully planted seeds are beginning to germinate into forms that tenderly suggest the mean little fruit they will bear once he takes power.

Abbott’s most recent claim to mainstream success was this little poison-plant about the mostly Muslim and very clearly desperate people trying to enter Australia via treacherous seaward journeys:

“I don’t think it’s a very Christian thing to come in by the back door rather than the front door.  I think the people we accept should be coming the right way and not the wrong way.  If you pay a people smuggler, if you jump the queue, if you take yourself and your family on a leaky boat, that’s doing the wrong thing, not the right thing, and we shouldn’t encourage it.’’

As flagrantly un-Christian as that display of chicanery may have been, it was not without significant hostile precedent. Speaking about a man dying from asbestosis who presented a petition for better care to government:

“It was a stunt. I know Bernie is very sick, but just because a person is sick doesn’t necessarily mean that he is pure of heart in all things.’’

And in response to the inevitable public outrage this caused:

“Bernie is a sick man and obviously he has the moral high ground. Obviously I shouldn’t have been as dismissive as I was.’’

Not an apology as such, but a surprisingly cocksure public statement about morality. Up next, maternity leave:

“Compulsory paid maternity leave? Over this Government’s dead body, frankly.’’

He has actually completely changed his mind on that by the way, but don’t think that means women are getting off lightly:

“What the housewives of Australia need to understand as they do the ironing is that if they get it done commercially it’s going to go up in price, and their own power bills when they switch the iron on, are going to go up.’’

Apparently this was meant as criticism of the Gillard government’s new emissions trading scheme (a pollution tax that the government states is not a tax), but it also succinctly describes his own proposed carbon tax:

“If you want to put a price on carbon why not just do it with a simple tax. Why not ask motorists to pay more? Why not ask electricity consumers to pay more?’’

OK, so he doesn’t really have a stone cold position on many things. But what about that archaic little bit about the ironing, and the outcry that caused:

“It’s just people being hypersensitive. But I think in many households it is still much more common to see the woman of the house with an iron in her hand.’’

Naturally this also caused some offence, but don’t go thinking Abbott’s not down with the ladies:

“I just want to make it clear I have never told an inappropriate joke, I’ve never pinched a woman on the backside and I never make inappropriate gestures to women.’’

Phew! And how do you feel about homosexuals?

“I probably feel a bit threatened, as so many people do. It’s a fact of life.’’

Again, some vocal upset. The response:

“There is no doubt that (homosexuality) challenges, if you like, orthodox notions of the right order of things.’’

And the response to the outcry that caused:

“Yeah, look, it was a poor choice of words. Look, I think blokes of my generation and upbringing do sometimes find these things a bit confronting.’’

Which I must admit is a refreshingly honest admission. He was straight forwardly honest, too, when asked about whether he would continue Labour’s policy to reduce homelessness:

“No. The poor will always be with us.”

Which is actually a Biblical quote that is considered by many Bible scholars to be on their most frequently misused list, basically a sentence that contradicts the overwhelmingly and unarguably major Biblical message about taking care of the poor. But that is, at least, consistent with our flagrantly un-Christian opening quote and the theme running through all Abbott’s frank truths: the savvy ‘I don’t care what I say as long as the majority of people like it.’ And, about this, he is also consistent:

“Misleading the ABC is not quite the same as misleading the parliament.’’

And, famously, here:

“I know politicians are going to be judged on everything they say, but sometimes, in the heat of discussion, you go a little bit further than you would if it was an absolutely calm, considered, prepared, scripted remark, which is one of the reasons why the statements that need to be taken absolutely as gospel truth is those carefully prepared scripted remarks.’’

All this honesty & truth lead former Liberal Party leader and Prime Minister Sir Malcolm Fraser to describe Abbott as “unpredictable’’ and “dangerous’’, basically willing to say or do whatever is necessary to get power, which is pretty much the definition of a tyrant or,  in more puerile terms, a “bad boss”, about whom Abbott had this to say:

“A bad boss is a little bit like a bad father or a bad husband. Not withstanding all his or her faults, you find that he tends to do more good than harm.’’

Um.

The point being, this is all suggestive of surprising chasms and bridges between what the future Prime Minister thinks, what he thinks he thinks, what he thinks he ought to think and what he actually says or does. The expression of which should see frank Tony transfigured in the unflinching media light into Australia’s budgie smuggling Prime Minister Pantsdown. This we predict, unless Jesus, growing tired of all this misrepresentation, intervenes before the big show in November, 2013. A closing quote about Jesus (and, again, immigrants) from the future Prime Minister:

“Jesus knew that there was a place for everything and it’s not necessarily everyone’s place to come to Australia.

(But) let’s not verbal Jesus, he is not here to defend himself.’’

 

 

Keep Our Town Hall

This is a letter that was just sent to a group of people supporting the retention of the Christchurch Town Hall.

Dear Keep Our Town Hall supporters.

We have reached a critical point in the effort to stop the demolition of the Town Hall.  The Council is meeting on Thursday to make a decision, and this is likely to be the final one.  An extraordinary campaign is being run by The Press in favour of full (or partial) demolition.  I have counted around 14 articles as either editorials or opinion pieces in the last month arguing for the demolition.   The supporters of the Town Hall have not been able to get a single article to articulate the views in favour of it. We now face the very real possibility of losing the vote on Thursday.

With this in mind I ask that if you want your voice to be heard as part of the campaign, can you please take the opportunity to email the Councilors who are voting on the issue.    The email addresses for the 13 councilors and the Mayor are:

barry.corbett@ccc.govt.nz,

bob.parker@ccc.govt.nz,

claudia.reid@ccc.govt.nz,

glenn.livingstone@ccc.govt.nz,

helen.broughton@ccc.govt.nz,

jamie.gough@ccc.govt.nz,

jimmy.chen@ccc.govt.nz,

ngaire.button@ccc.govt.nz,

peter.beck@ccc.govt.nz,

sally.buck@ccc.govt.nz,

sue.wells@ccc.govt.nz,

tim.carter@ccc.govt.nz,

yani.johanson@ccc.govt.nz,

You can just copy and past all there addresses into one email. The vote is first thing Thursday morning, so I think the emails need to be sent either today or tomorrow so there is time for the Councillors to read them.   (please also bcc us: keepourtownhall@gmail.com)

Update

Recent articles about the Town Hall can be found here:

Ian Lochhead: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/opinion/perspective/8823394/Symbol-of-great-innovation

Barnaby Bennett: http://info.scoop.co.nz/Barnaby_Bennett

Since we last emailed you in March the key development is that a large rebuild cost-sharing agreement between the local Christchurch City Council and the Government was signed in late June.   The result of these negotiations was that the development of Town Hall and Arts Precinct was handed over to the Council to continue (along with the Library and Stadium).

Initially this was greeted with some positivity by those working to protect the Town Hall as the Council has been consistent in it efforts to keep it, most notably in the unanimous decision last November.

The Council staff have been working on options for the full retention for the past 9 months and these were presented to the councilors at a workshop a few weeks ago.
The Council were to vote on this, but the campaign by the Press and some members of the business and arts community have been vociferously calling for a reconsideration of the decision to keep the Town Hall.  This is based on the legally questionable idea that the insurance money from the Town Hall can simply be transferred to a new arts precinct.  The Press is arguing for the complete demolition of the Town Hall and for all the funding to go towards a new arts centre on the south side of the river, and others are asking for the demolition of all but the auditorium, with the remaining $80 million (or less) to go to the new arts precinct.

Sir Miles Warren, Ian Lochhead and Barnaby Bennett presented to the  Council’s Community, Recreation, and Culture committee last week, and the committee recommended the full retention option to the full Council.  However the pressure has really turned up this week, so it is likely some Councillors will turn.

Our main points are:

  1. The Council has already consulted on this and there is widespread community support for the full retention.
  2. The Council itself has already unanimously voted in favour of full retention.
  3. It is a heritage one listed building and the Council would be breaking its own guidelines to vote in favour of even partial demolition.
  4. The money to repair, and upgrade, the building has already been budgeted and approved as part of the Councils Three year plan.
  5. There is now reasonable cost certainty over the price of the repairs, and the total includes fees and many large contingencies for unforeseen cost increases.
  6. The building is a civic building and so the idea of demolishing it to make way for an arts precinct is culturally questionable.
  7.  It is an internationally recognized, and gold medal award winning, building of great quality.  In the context of a city that has lost 80% of its down town buildings and over half of its heritage listed stock it would be an travesty to add this building to the rubbish heap.
  8. The cost includes a full upgrade to current fire, structural, and services standards.  The acoustic improvement of the James Hay is also included and some previous issues with accessibility.

Even if you have already written to us or the council in support it is important to remind them again. If you have the time please do write a few comments about why you think the Town Hall should not be demolished, this is a critical moment.

Thanks you for your contribution to saving this important and amazing building. We can hopefully come back with good news on friday!

Regards

Keep our Town Hall group

Sir Miles Warren

Maurice Mahoney

Dr. Ian Lochhead.

Duncan Craig

Dr. Jessical Hallliday

Barnaby Bennett