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Regenerate Christchurch’s vision for Cathedral Square includes a series of interconnected spaces and enclosed pavilions

Making Cathedral Square a place for the people again

Regenerate Christchurch has released its vision for Cathedral Square, emphasising that a return to its original purpose as a gathering place for local people and visitors must be front and centre.

Regenerate Christchurch chief executive Ivan Iafeta says that while the vision for the physical regeneration of the square is aspirational in terms of design, the social regeneration of the square is achievable sooner and should be prioritised.

“There is already significant investment occurring around the square. The most practical way to support that investment is to commit to a long-term vision over time while, in the meantime, getting more happening there and making it a place for the people again.”

Mr Iafeta says that, coupled with the restoration of the Anglican Cathedral, the regeneration of the square will need to be delivered in stages as funding and other developments allow. But delivering a comprehensive programme of events, activities and festivals will re-establish the square as a gathering place.

“As we saw with the Lantern Festival earlier this year, people will come to the central city if they have a good reason, and having more people coming to this area will further support the significant private and public investment already being made.”

Significant developments

Private property owners and developers have committed to significant property developments on the south side of the square, says Mr Iafeta. These include Redson Corporation’s new Aotea Gifts building and Nexus Point’s Spark building. The new central library (Turanga) is currently being built on the north side of the square, and construction of the Convention Centre (Te Pae) is well underway.

Regenerate Christchurch’s development of the vision over the past 18 months has included planning and engagement with Cathedral Square property owners, business groups, heritage groups, Ngai Tuahuriri, the public and other key stakeholders.

It includes a series of interconnected spaces suitable for holding public events, with a combination of paving and green areas, and more trees than there has been in the past. The design includes an option for three enclosed pavilions connected by a lattice-style structure which, Mr Iafeta says, would provide a year-round undercover area for markets and other activities.

Delivery strategy

Mr Iafeta says now that Regenerate Christchurch has released its vision for the square, it will work with Christchurch City Council to develop a delivery strategy.

“To be regenerated, the square cannot remain symbolic of the city’s loss, and instead needs to be a strong symbol of the vibrant future of the centre of our city. The long-term vision will provide the impetus and drive for the public and private sectors to work toward a common goal,” he says.

“But it’s not just about new things. It is about people, and we need to get on with making the square a place for the people again.”


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