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Sustainable cities expert to speak at Greater Christchurch UDS public meeting

6 May 2005

One of the foremost authorities on sustainable cities, Peter Newman, Professor in City Policy, director of the Institute of Sustainability and Technology Policy at Murdoch University, Western Australia, and Sustainability Commissioner for New South Wales, will speak at the central city public meeting on the Greater Christchurch Urban Development Strategy.

To be held at The Rydges hotel from 7.30pm to 9pm, the meeting aims to stimulate discussion around options now out for public consultation until 3 June. The options are to be considered in drafting the Greater Christchurch Urban Development Strategy that will provide local bodies with long-term plans for dealing with growth in Christchurch.

Although most of Christchurch’s growth is occurring in the city, its impact through increased traffic congestion, new housing development spread over productive farmland, and risk to drinking water is having major impact on outlying areas like Rangiora, Rolleston, Lincoln and Banks Peninsula. To seek more consistent and effective, regional, long-term answers, the Christchurch local bodies decided to draw up a strategy together.

According to Professor Newman, if cities continue to spread to provide more space for quality private homes and the use of private vehicles, then cities eventually lose sight of the needs and motivations for the common good – leading to fragmentation and loss of communities.

Despite doubling vehicle fuel efficiency between 1973 and 1988, transportation oil consumption in the United States increased almost 20%, Professor Newman says. "The problem is automobile dependence. Building cities with an assumption of automobile usage and growth is no longer sustainable. We need more non-auto infrastructure and less auto infrastructure," Professor Newman says.

Land use patterns, like sticking to a series of nodal (village-like) subcentres, rather than continued dispersal of housing developments across the plains, would help minimise the need to travel by car, Professor Newman says.

Professor Newman is in Christchurch to speak to a meeting of community leaders brought together to consider the options, and will stay on to be part of the public meeting the same evening. This is the public’s one chance to hear him in Christchurch.

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