Christchurch Urban Development Strategy

New Zealand

A good example of sub-regional planning and urban design which drives the sustainability agenda at a strategic level.

The Greater Christchurch Urban Development Strategy (UDS) is the most comprehensive of its kind in New Zealand. It is a place-based growth plan for long-term, sustainable prosperity of this metropolitan area to accommodate an extra 135,000 people in 75,000 new households by 2041.

An initial consultation on four broad growth options produced a preferred pattern of growth which was then fleshed out using a workshop-based design process. This was incorporated into the Urban Development Strategy which is now going through formal statutory planning processes.

The methods used in developing the Urban Development Strategy have universal relevance to strategic growth planning. They integrate and balance strategic objectives between:

  • technical disciplines
  • regional and local authorities and government agencies
  • the city-wide/regional networks and local place-based designs
  • spatial plans and implementation initiatives
  • the full range of community and stakeholder interests.

The project has also:

  • provided innovative opportunities for community involvement
  • achieved a lot during a relatively short timeframe
  • helped build partnership and consensus
  • provided opportunities for sustainable community, environmental and economic development
  • emphasised highly deliverable and achievable growth targets.

Key lessons from Christchurch

  • gain community-wide support (in principle) in advance
  • establish a mechanism that commits political leaders to the project
  • provide a clear project structure with the flexibility to respond to new issues as they arise
  • provide strong project leadership that combines organisational, communication and intellectual skills
  • use sustainability specialists who are adept at running workshops and ensure that their information needs are met
  • respond to local needs and differences
  • use  local authority staff to ensure local knowledge, deliverability and continued support
  • test through design or calculation where possible
  • co-ordination is not enough - drive the sustainability agenda. Push to achieve sustainable outcomes with a strong emphasis on quality; go beyond what the market delivers and/or policy requires.