Seizing the opportunity?: how sustainable urban design will feature in the redevelopment of the central city of Christchurch to reduce CO₂ emissions from land transport
Following devastating earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 in Christchurch, there is an opportunity to use sustainable urban design variables to redevelop the central city in order to address climate change concerns and reduce CO₂ emissions from land transport. Literature from a variety of disciplines establishes that four sustainable urban design variables; increased density, mixed-use development, street layout and city design, and the provision of sustainable public transport, can reduce car dependency and vehicle kilometres travelled within urban populations- widely regarded as indicators of the negative environmental effects of transport. The key question for the research is; to what extent has this opportunity been seized by NZ’s Central Government who are overseeing the central city redevelopment? In order to explore this question the redevelopment plans for the central city of Christchurch are evaluated against an adapted urban design matrix to determine whether a reduction in CO₂ emissions from land transport is likely to be achieved through their implementation. Data obtained through interviews with experts is used to further explore the extent to which sustainable urban design variables can be employed to enhance sustainability and reduce CO₂ emissions. The analysis of this data shows that the four urban design variables will feature in the Central Government’s redevelopment plans although the extent to which they are employed and their likely success in reducing CO₂ emissions will vary. Ultimately, the opportunity to redevelop the central city of Christchurch to reduce CO₂ emissions from land transport will be undermined due to timeframe, co-ordination, and leadership barriers.