06 April 2019

Christchurch City Council’s community-led revitalisation initiative has achieved the supreme accolade at the 2019 New Zealand Planning Institute (NZPI) awards.

Following the 2010/11 Christchurch earthquakes, the Council has applied a collaborative approach that reflects the community’s desire for increased local action and decision-making.

An online ‘Shape your Place’ toolkit was launched to help Christchurch residents identify, plan and deliver their own neighbourhood projects.

Public and private areas have been transformed into meaningful community spaces – resulting in new fitness trails, pop-up theatres, playground rebuilds, street parties, and communal gardens. Amenity and community activity has also improved at various earthquake-damaged locations.

The innovative approach to urban development claimed the title of Best Practice in Non-Statutory Planning and NZPI’s supreme accolade, the Nancy Northcroft Award.

NZPI chair Karyn Sinclair says the award reflects the organisation’s strong place-making leadership, which moves away from traditional council-led master plans.

Place-making is a grassroots, collaborative approach to urban design that encourages public participation.

“Christchurch City Council is acutely aware that ownership of place lies at the neighbourhood level, and communities hold a significant amount of knowledge, initiative and attachment that can inform project scope, design, delivery and upkeep,” says Karyn.

“It is a great example of deep engagement with a community that has experienced a lot of recent social disruption.”

Other key awards highlighted coastal planning in the Kermadec and Subantarctic Islands, restoring the ecological and cultural health of Lyttelton Harbour, and transforming one of New Zealand’s most dangerous intersections into an acclaimed Napier gateway.

The awards were the closing item for the NZPI 2019 conference, which was held in Napier this week.

The top three planning issues addressed at the conference were urban growth, climate change and water quality. Future food security, driverless cars and Maori involvement in freshwater planning were also high on the agenda.

More than 600 delegates attended the conference, including industry leaders, iwi, resource managers, urban designers, scientists, environmental advocates and local and central government.

Click here for the 2019 NZPI Award winners