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Initial Concept Proposals for City Mall Unveiled

23 May 2006

Initial concept proposals for the redevelopment of the City Mall were presented to Christchurch City councillors today by locally-based Isthmus Group, the urban design company carrying out the redevelopment for the Council.

“There is no one solution to the complex issues facing the City Mall,“ said Isthmus Group director and City Mall redevelopment project leader Garth Falconer. “By presenting this initial sketch of our planning, we hoped to show that our approach is a balanced, composite plan with solutions set up to address these different issues.” 

The proposals include:

  • Re-introduction of traffic to High Street to reinforce links to the Square and the upper High Street area.

  • Cashel Street from Colombo Street to Oxford Terrace to be developed into a slow traffic area, the public space being shared by cars and pedestrians. The section of Cashel Street between Colombo Street to High Street to remain pedestrian. 

  • A number of new anchors or destinations to attract additional foot traffic are to be developed.

  •  A number of interconnecting lanes are proposed to allow easy access throughout the area between Oxford Terrace and Lichfield, Manchester and Hereford Streets, better linking the City Mall to other parts of the central city. 

“Alternative suggestions, ideas and views are still up for consideration. However, these proposals presented to the Council today are based on consultation with a broad range of groups over the past few weeks, which uncovered a number of clear themes. These proposals are broad concepts only. We have presented them now to stimulate more discussion and feedback. We will be refining these proposals and listening to what people have to say about them, before presenting more detailed plans for more formal consultation in late July,” Garth Falconer said.

Proposing to allow traffic to return to High Street and providing limited thoroughfare to Cashel Street was likely to be supported by many of the different groups that Isthmus has met, Garth Falconer said.

Many of the larger landowners and retailers in the City Mall area attended the seminar meeting. 

“I think that the general consensus was that this initial plan is a very good start,” said Philip Richard, trading manager and a director of Ballantynes.

“There is a lot of scope in this initial design for land owners and private developers to get involved.  I believe there is a lot of interest in the possibilities among the development community and I hope the council will make working together as painless as possible,” said Antony Gough of Hereford Holdings.

“Retailers and property owners championed plans to turn sections of Cashel and High Streets into pedestrian only shopping streets in the early 1980s, like many streets in cities worldwide. However, in many cases elsewhere in the world, the experiment of paving streets and blocking traffic has not succeeded in attracting new shops, reducing retail vacancies or improving security, especially at night. Shops on the street are visible to passing cars and potential customers.”

“Other urban shopping streets, internationally, have reverted from pedestrian only to allowing some vehicle movement. It has been a strong theme among the stakeholders we have spoken to, and we would like to see more discussion on the limited re-introduction of traffic to these streets, which is why we have included it in these initial proposals,” said Garth Falconer.  

The City Mall area in the redevelopment project is bounded by Lichfield, Oxford, Hereford and Manchester Streets and includes some 15 bars and clubs, 25 cafes, 24 restaurants and over 40 food takeaway outlets in a total of over 450 shops and services.

More detailed design proposals from the Isthmus Group will be presented by late July. These will combine proposals on physical improvements for the streets with a draft business management plan to co-ordinate marketing of the area on behalf of retailers and property owners.

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