Archive for the ‘Urban Design’ Category

Waimakariri Approves Budget for Upgrade of Rangiora’s Red Lion Corner and High Street

24 May 2013

The Waimakariri District Council has approved budget for the major upgrade of the Red Lion Corner and Central High Street.

This has been on the books for three years, before the earthquake, after major community consultation at that time.Red Lion Corner The closure of several premises because of the earthquakes has meant that the programme has been brought forward several years to help in the revitalisation of the town centre.

The problems with the current layout are legion.

  • It is terrible for pedestrians (as is the associated High-Albert Streets corner)
  • The turn from Ivory St east into High St is difficult
  • Driving cross Albert Street from west to east can be perilous
  • Access to the main shopping area from the east is essentially blocked
  • If you want to drive south from High Street you have to first drive north

Really, the only manoeuvres that really work are north-south movement and the left turn past the Red Lion.

The new layout will line up Ivory and Ashley Streets to make a conventional cross-roads controlled by traffic lights.

The Council already owns the the former Westpac building but will need to purchase more property.

Associated with this will be the returning of High Street to two-way traffic with parallel parking. This will oimporve the business environment for retailers at the east end in the area of the BNZ and ANZ banks, make it easier for pedestrians to move around the town and make it possible to come in from the east. At the same time, the Council will be working on improving parking availability in adjacent areas.

Discussions with the RSA about relocation of the Cenotaph will begin soon. The Cenotaph itself is not actually affected, but the new road will pass very close to it.

Assuming property purchase and other issues go reasonably smoothly, wotk could start towards the end of 2014.

Kaiapoi and Rangiora Town Centre Strategies

1 March 2012

There has been quite a correspondence in the Northern Outlook about the future of the Rangiora Town Centre. 

We already have strategies in place for the two town centres – and they are quite recent. If you want to see them, you can find them on the Council website at:

Trees Make a Difference in Town Centres

16 January 2012

Central Canberra

Rebuilding Kaiapoi, The Pines and Kairaki

2 January 2011

The rebuilding of the earthquake-affected parts of these three areas involves not only people’s houses, but public spaces as well.

For information on the consultation process today and to see what is coming out of that consultation so far, you can go to:

As you can see from the map above, five areas have  been dilineated.

Countdown Approved for Rangiora

6 August 2010

The proposed Countdown Supermarket for Ivory Street, Rangiora, has been granted a resource consent by the commissioner who conducted the hearing on behalf of the Council. The site is that currently occupied by the fruit and vege market and is zoned Residential 1 (higher density residential).

There were a number of objections from neighbours, in all directions from the site, on grounds that included noise, traffic and  inappropriate use in a residential zone.  The objectors included both residents and the Kohanga Reo over the road.

The Council’s planning officer also opposed the application, saying that it would have a negative effect on the Rangiora Town Centre because it would pull business use south of Queen Street, which is the southern edge of the central business area. He also said that the proposed supermarket would have an undesirable impact on the residential environment and the well-being of the immediate neighbours.

The Commissioner granted the resource consent mainly by considering the site as it is now as opposed to what it might be like if it were to be developed for residential use at some later date.  That means that the objectors had to show that the supermarket would create a worse environment than that which is currently or was recently there.  He also commented that the area is a mixed one at present, with the vege market, railway line and different kinds of housing development.

Anybody who submitted on the Countdown application has the right of appeal to the Environment Court.  The time in which an appeal can be lodged is limited by the Resource Management Act.  Note that the Council cannot appeal against the decision: because the decision was made on behalf of the Council, the Council now “owns” the decision.  Even although it opposed the application, it now has to defend the decision in the Environment Court against any appeal.

Countdown Hearing Under Way

28 June 2010

The hearing for the proposed Countdown Supermarket in Ivory Street, Rangiora, before Commissioner Jeff Page, is currently under way in the Council Chambers.  It is scheduled to last until Wednesday.

Rangiora Town Centre Options out for Consultation

9 June 2010

The Rangiora Town Centre options paper is out for consultation.

Pick up a copy from the council or go to for either the full document or a summary.

This is your chance to have your say about Rangiora’s future.  The town and the wider district depend on having a healthy and vibrant retail heart in Rangiora.

Submissions close on 25 June.

Rangiora Town Centre Consultation Report Nearly Ready

14 May 2010

The former Northern A & P Building, Ivory Street

The report of the council, the three citizens and business groups and the consultants on the Rangiora Town Centre is close to being completed.  It will go before a Council committee on Tuesday 18 May (i.e. next week) and hopefully released to the public shortly after that.

This will not be a final report .  It will be a discussion of issues and options and will be open for public consultation.

Rangiora Town Centre: What’s Going On? Has it Dropped off the Radar?

11 April 2010

You might recall that the Council called a public meeting last year to discuss the Rangiora Town Centre.  What has happened since then?

At the meeting, participants were invited to put their names forward for one of two reference groups – one for property owners and business people in the Town Centre, and the other for “users” of the Town Centre (i.e. the general public).  They and a third group overseeing the process have met on a number of occasions feeding ideas and comments into the process.  The third oversight group is comprised of some councillors, staff and representatives from the Ward Advisory Boards and Our Town Rangiora.

Four groups of consultants have been engaged by the Council and they are developing ideas on such areas as business development, traffic, parking and the overall appearance of the town centre.  A lot of analysis of the current situation is, of course, being done and the overall message is that the Town Centre has a lot going for it and is actually very strong.  Much, however, could be done to make it even better.

The three groups and the consultants all got together a couple of weeks ago for a day-and-a-half workshop, followed by a public open day on the following Saturday.  Not many came, but it was advertised and it did happen!

The consultants have now gone away for further research and analysis and to prepare reports for the Council.

It needs to be emphasised that what comes out of this process will not be a series of decisions.  What we will get are a range of concepts which will be open for further public consultation.  There are rumours going around the town that the Council has “decided” this or that.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Rangiora Town Centre

12 February 2010

If you want to keep abreast of what is happening with the work on the Rangiora Town Centre, go to:

There are three consultative working parties currently working on this. 

Supermarket Wars in Rangiora

7 February 2010

As I think everyone in the town knows, Countdown and Pak n Save are “coming” to Rangiora.

Well, are they?  Not yet – and key decisions have yet to be made. 

Applications for Resource Consent have been made by Woolworths for a Countdown on the Rangiora Fruit and Vege site in Ivory Street, and by Foodstuffs for a Pak n Save on the Rangiora Mazda site in Southbrook Road.

Note that these are applications only.  No decisions have been made.  Resource consent applications can be dealt with in a number of ways and these will be heard in the open at a Council hearing.  Hearings can be heard by councillors or by outside commissioners, or a combination.  These hearings are likely to be heard by commissioners because of the size and complexity of the proposals. A commissioner’s decision becomes the Council’s decision.

Under the Resource Management Act, anyone can make a submission.

In both applications, two of the matters that will have to be considered are traffic and zoning.

  1. Traffic. They are both on the same north-south route.  The Pak n Save site is on Rangiora’s busiest road (up to 15 000 vehicles a day, I believe), with a busy intersection nearby and Mitre 10 Mega over the road.  For the Countdown site, Ivory Street is also very busy, and is narrow.  There is a kohanga reo over the road.
  2. Zoning. The Pak n Save site is zoned Business 2, which does not permit that kind of retailing.  The Countdown site is zoned Residential 2 (like most of Rangiora and Kaiapoi) and has residential properties on both sides.

Those are just two of the issues that will inevitably come up in the hearings.

Footpaths and Grass Berms

19 January 2010

Over the years there has been a lot of discussion about the position of footpaths in relation to the kerb and the grass berm.  An associated issue is the positioning of underground services: water, telephone and electricity.  The latter are usually placed near the property frontages.

Placing the footpath beside the kerb like this has these advantages:

  • The path is not over the underground services, making repairs to those services easier.
  • Overhanging trees and shrubs from properties are less likely to obstruct pedestrians.
  • Passengers getting out of cars alight on to the footpath, not grass (which may be wet).

However, there are disadvantages too.

  • The driveway crossings are deep, making the footpath hazardous for mobility scooters and wheelchairs.
  • Although this photo shows street trees, there is often no room for street trees to be planted because of the underground services.
  • There is a common view that that this arrangement is less aestheically pleasing the photo below.

In this street, the berm is next to the kerb.  Because it is a new street, there is also a strip next to the property boundaries for the underground services.

The advantages of this arrangement include:

  • The vehicle crossings are flat or at least shallower – better for mobility scooters and wheelchairs.
  • There is room for street-tree planting.
  • Some think this looks better, providing a more pleasing streetscape. 

And the disadvantages?

  • Unless there is room, as in the photo above, the underground services go under the footpath.  If they need to be repaired, you end up with a patched-up footpath.
  • Passengers from vehicles alight on to the grass, which may be wet.
  • Trees and shrubs overhanging from the properties can obstruct the footpath.

Of course, there are compromises, like this!  Unfortunately, the trees that were supposed to have been planted between the footpath and the kerb never happened.  Another compromise are those footpaths that curve around the street-trees.

Streets – with or without trees?

16 January 2010

You be the judge!

32km/h Speed Limits? – or Narrow Streets?

12 January 2010

There is a growing trend in Britain to limit speeds in residential areas to 20mph – that’s 32km/h in our language.  They are imposing these without any accompanying traffic “calming” measures.

One way of slowing traffic down that traffic engineers like is to build narrower streets.  Some people don’t like them – but it does seem to work, if slowing speeds is on your agenda.

Some Observations About Alfred Street

10 January 2010

The Council has voted to restore Alfred Street, Rangiora, to its former self, i.e. two-way travel between Victoria Street and Percival Street will now be possible.  This should happen fairly soon, provided no-one appeals the decision to the Environment Court.

I voted to restore it, mainly to take the issue out of the more important consultation on the Rangiora Town Centre.

There are few observations, however, that I would like to make, in no particular order.

  • The street is not a service lane. It is a legal road.  It has in recent times functioned both as a service lane and an access from Ivory Street to Percival Street.
  • Making part of High Street one-way has served to make Alfred Street a route back to the west for those parking in High Street.  Most of Rangiora is to the west of the business centre.
  • The most affective ways of bypassing the town centre remain Blackett Street and Queen Street.  Blackett Street, especially since the three central roundabouts were put in, is the easiest way of travelling between east and west.
  • The two inner east-west streets, Alfred and Blake, are of local use only – neither reaches King Street, and Blake Street doesn’t reach Ashley Street.
  • In working on a Rangiora town centre plan, we, the community, may find that Alfred Street takes on another form.  We need to have open minds about the whole town centre and be ready to consider anything.

Sharing Spaces – Pedestrians, Cyclists and Vehicles

2 January 2010

One idea that is gaining around the world is the idea of spaces being shared between pedestrians and wheeled vehicles.

If we are going to have a decent look at the Rangiora town centre (and Kaiapoi’s for that matter) we need to at least put this thinking into the mix.

I put a TIME article on this blog on 24 February 2008 (dig for it! or try clicking  and there is a Wikipedia piece in the page labelled Sharing Spaces in Our Towns on the right of your screen.

You can also go to and type Dr Rodney Tolley into the search or go straight there at: and . They take about 10 minutes to listen to (it’s just him talking) – and to get the full import of what he is talking about, the second part is when he gets to the specific point about shared spaces in towns.  Rodney Tolley is from England and recently spoke in Christchurch.

Shared Space in New Road, Brighton, England

Light Rail for Waimakariri?

30 December 2009

Christchurch’s mayor, Bob Parker, is again promoting light rail as part of Greater Christchurch’s transport mix.  I welcome his keeping it in the public eye.

People in Waimakariri often say to me that we should be using rail more than we are and certainly we should be continuously considering it.  My view is that some sort of commuter rail link is likely in the future – but not yet.  As this District continues to grow, particularly around Kaiapoi, Woodend-Pegasus and Rangiora, public transport, both to Christchurch and within the District (linking the three nodes) will become increasingly important.

At present, the effort has been going into improving the bus services, as with the dramatically improved Northern Star service and the creation of bus lanes in Papanui and Main North Roads.  Buses have the advantage of flexibility: it is easy to change their routes to meet changing needs and they can use existing infrastructure (i.e. roads).  One obvious disadvantage is that they tend to get caught up in the very traffic congestion that we are trying to alleviate – although that is a disadvantage for on-road light rail too.

In Waimakariri, it would be possible to run commuter heavy rail into Christchurch (although the Christchurch stations may not be conveniently located).  It would also be possible to run light rail on the heavy rail tracks – although we could have a problem with stability on NZ’s narrow 3ft 6in railway gauge (our trams run on a wider gauge).  I think light rail has a better future for Waimakariri than heavy rail because it would link in better with any future Christchurch network (already started with the historic tram routes in the centre of the city).

Light rail would be very expensive now – in fact, too expensive – but the last thing that Greater Christchurch wants is to put itself in the position of Auckland, where a lack of foresight is now costing them and the country heaps.

So what should we do in Waimakariri?

  • preserve the rail corridor and, where possible, preserve current opportunities for double tracking (probably needed for successful communter services).
  • keep the Rangiora railway station from deteriorating.
  • identify and preserve a site for a new Kaiapoi railway station.
  • identify and preserve other commuter light-rail routes to, particularly, Woodend-Pegasus, and within Kaiapoi and Rangiora.
  • include light rail in our park-and-ride thinking.

There may be more!  – but, whatever we do, let’s think long-term.

Pegasus is Growing

29 December 2009

Despite the recession, Pegasus is going ahead.  Here is a recent aerial view.

Urban Planning in Curitiba, Brazil

16 August 2009


In the pages listed to the right of your screen, you can see an entry Urban Planning in Curitiba, Brazil. This city has been at the forefront of cities trying to find new ways to deal with growth while at the same time maintaining a human scale.

It has been suggested to me that Rangiora is a small town  with small-town problems trying to find big-city solutions.

What do you think?

Alfred Street Remains Closed – Council Decision

7 August 2009

This week, the Waimakariri District Council decided to keep Alfred Street closed.  They decided:

Lets the closure of Alfred Street stand in the meantime and develop a long term plan for Rangiora and from that decide the future form and function of Alfred Street.

Requests staff to bring back to Council a wider strategy report on the Rangiora Town Centre before any enhancement takes place in Alfred Street.

There are a number of problems with this approach.

  1. Those councillors who voted for this ignored a petition of about 4000 people.
  2. They passed up the opportunity to follow the same legal process to reopen the street that was taken to pedestrianise that portion of Alfred Street.
  3. The “long-term plan” consultation process will be muddied by strong community feelings over Alfred Street – in other words, Alfred Street will be a diversion from more important matters (click on Rangiora’s Heart: What Needs to Happen?  in the page list on the right of your screen).
  4. They have implicitly told the people of this District that in developing a long-term plan for central Rangiora, they won’t necessarily listen to those people.
  5. They are going to do nothing until the plan is complete.  This will take at least a year and in my view is unlikely to be complete before the next local body elections in October 2010.  In the meantime, we can all look at those yellow bollards.

To me, it was better to get this issue out of the way by going back to the way Alfred Street was.  That is why I tried to persaude the Council to reopen the street.

I strongly believe that we need a long hard look at Central Rangiora – its structure, the appearance, the parking, the traffic, etc. because a strong retail centre is vital to Rangiora as a town.  See the following blog post.

But this week’s decision has made progress towards that harder.

Rangiora’s Central Business District: Let’s Do Something About It!

7 August 2009

Something needs to be done about Rangiora’s Central Business District.

We need better planning so that we know where we are going to go over the next 20 years.

The planning needs to involve the entire community (that’s not just Rangiora residents) and it needs to be open.

To help get discussion going, my initial thoughts are in one of the pages posted on the right: click on  Rangiora’s Heart: What Needs to Happen.  

Calming the Traffic

15 July 2009

If you go to you can listen to a really interesting interview with Australian traffic-calming advocate, David Engwicht.  It’s from the Radio New Zealand Saturday programme – usually Kim Hill but not that day!  It takes over half an hour, so set aside some time.

What’s Happening in Rangiora’s High Street?

10 July 2009

A long-overdue upgrade of footpaths, street furniture, etc. is under way.  The street has been looking tired for a long time.

It was hoped that we could do up some of the lanes connecting the street with carparks to the north.  Unfortunately, the Council cut the funding a year ago, so what we are getting is a scaled-back version of what could have been.  Needless-to-say, the decision to cut the funding was not unanimous!

Still No Progress on Alfred Street

8 July 2009

Those who want Alfred Street, Rangiora, re-opened were stymied again yesterday at a council meeting when a motion was put that referred to Local Government Act of 1974 – but with the movers not supplying any information on the section they were referring to, Councillors had little choice to let the matter lie on the table pending legal advice.

The Council staff had offered two alternatives – both quite simple.  Leave it closed or reopen it by going through the same procedure to reopen as was used to close it.  The latter mechanism would have kept faith with those who had taken part in the legal process a couple of years ago.

What’s Happening in NW Rangiora?

26 May 2009

The Urban Development Strategy has identified western Rangiora, loosely as far as Lehmans Road, as a growth area over the next 30 years.  The strategy is a joint project of the Waimakariri, Christchurch and Selwyn Councils, ECan and the NZ Transport Agency (formerly Transit NZ).  Part of the UDS is in the process of being given legal status through ECan’s Change 1 to their Regional Policy Statement.

The Waimakariri District Council has decided that the best way to plan for residential growth in west Rangiora is to do it through private plan changes.  This means that landowners and/or developers initiate the necessary chnages to the Waimakariri District Plan.

To give those landowners and developers some guidance, the Council has been consulting with the community on the drawing up of structure plans.  These will indicate the general direction of main roads, sewer lines, etc.  This process is not complete.

In the meantime, a group of developers has initiated a private plan change to turn the northern-most part of this area into a residential zone and a smaller section beyond into “rural residential”.

One area of controversy has been Brick Kiln Lane, which, while zoned rural, has a series of large residential sections.  It includes an historic cottage and the remains of the last brick kiln to survive in the area. The lane itself is not a Council road.  The residents have been insistent that their lane should retain its ambience – which is probably quite achievable provided the lane does not become a through-road.

Making Our Towns More Beautiful

13 July 2008

Most of us know that there are Beautiful Towns Committees in Oxford, Kaiapoi and Rangiora, and that in Woodend a lot of beautification has been done by the Lions, (small groups of dedicated volunteers all), but why rely on just them?

In San Francisco there is on organisation that calls itself Friends of the Urban Forest and on their website – – there is a neat YouTube video on how they get trees planted street by street or block by block – and it’s done by the locals themselves..

Streets Without Footpaths, Markings or Signs?

24 February 2008

Below is a recent article from Time magazine.  It describes recent experiments in road design which I found interesting.

Signal Failure

 Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2008 By MICHAEL BRUNTON


For decades, traffic engineer Hans Monderman had a hair-raising way of showing off his handiwork to anyone who took the trouble to visit his native northern Dutch province of Friesland. He would walk backward, arms folded, into the flow of traffic, and without horn-honking or expletives, drivers would slow or stop to let him safely cross to the other side. Monderman’s stunt was an act of faith in the concept of “shared space,” a radical street-design principle he quietly pioneered in more than 120 projects across Friesland. By the time he died of cancer last month, Monderman’s local lessons had gone global: his notion of shared space has become a buzzword for urban designers all over the world. Ben Hamilton-Baillie, a British traffic and urban-design consultant, says Monderman’s legacy goes beyond even that: “Hans took a very mundane profession and made it explore much wider political and social questions about what public space and public life are all about.”

 For Monderman, that inquiry began with the more prosaic challenge of getting cars to slow down. Like every transport planner faced with the relentless proliferation of motor vehicles, he had started out by assiduously putting up signs, painting lines and devising new traffic-calming projects. One of his early specialties was to place giant flowerpots in the road to make drivers hit the brakes. But in 1982, Monderman risked a bolder approach, redesigning the street layout of car-clogged Frisian towns and villages. He began by removing the road signs, traffic lights and surface markings, then set about eliminating the curb between the sidewalk and the highway. “My theory,” said Monderman, at a Congress for New Urbanism (CNU) summit in London last November, “was if you want people to behave in a village, maybe you have to make it feel like a village.” Monderman’s flowerpots reduced average traffic speed by 10%; using shared space cut it in half.

It took another 15 years before Monderman could fully articulate his new concept. His key insight was that all the street signs, traffic lights and other paraphernalia intended to keep pedestrians and motorists safely apart actually discourage both groups from engaging with each other. In an interview with TIME several weeks before his death, Monderman explained that removing signs forces you “to look each other in the eye, to judge body language and learn to take responsibility — to function as normal human beings.”

At the CNU summit, a streaming video showed cars, cyclists and pedestrians passing in a polite quadrille of nods and hand gestures through a Monderman-designed intersection in the Dutch town of Drachten. Since this “naked” junction was created in 2004, speeds through the town have slowed dramatically. Yet because there are no enforced waits at traffic lights, the crossing time has dropped from 50 to 30 seconds, while accidents have fallen from an average of nine a year to just one.

Town planners, civil architects and traffic engineers from the U.S., Europe, the Middle East and Australia increasingly see shared space as a starting point for solving a wider problem: that towns and cities they have painstakingly designed to function smoothly too often turn out to be ugly, alienating and dangerous.

For Hank Dittmar, chairman of the Chicago-based CNU and CEO of the Prince of Wales’ Foundation for the Built Environment, shared space is the nub of what Prince Charles had in mind in 1987 when he founded the experimental village of Poundbury on land that he owns in the English countryside. Architecturally, the village is often panned as a nostalgic exercise in faux-bucolic Englishness. But in prioritizing people over cars, says Dittmar, the winding streets and discreet signs used in Poundbury make it a model for high-density urban design. The bigger challenge, he says, is “retrofitting places that were built before the automobile. The old idea for traffic was to separate pedestrians and motor vehicles, but what it has devolved to is guardrails that fence people in.”

For most of his career, Monderman’s ideas inspired more admiration than emulation, but that’s started to change. In 2004, the European Union set up a four-year funding project to foster the shared-space ethic in seven towns across Europe, including Oostende in Belgium and Ipswich in England. Last September, work finally began on the transformation of Bohmte, a town in northwestern Germany. Although its mayor, Klaus Goedejohann, says he expects “an aesthetic improvement, a higher quality of life and a better traffic situation” when the signs come down, so far all he has to show are some large piles of sand. If it takes this long to implement such a small project — Bohmte’s main street handles just 12,600 cars a day — can shared space really offer relief for the world’s gridlocked megacities?

Monderman was convinced it could — and that one day it would. By his reckoning, a single-lane, shared-space junction could handle up to 25,000 vehicles a day. That’s only a fraction of the 100,000-plus load of, say, the Champs Elysées in Paris or Barcelona’s Diagonal, but it’s still enough to rescue most streets in our biggest urbs from the hegemony of the car.

Proof of the principle may lie with Daniel Moylan, deputy council leader for the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea, whose controversial $30 million project to remake the busy Exhibition Road using shared-space principles begins in mid-2008. As well as being home to three major museums, the road will have to accommodate a subway station, bus routes, streams of traffic and the footfall of 10 million visitors a year. For Moylan, stripping out the jungle of street furniture will be a riposte to some decades-old assumptions about road use and the nature of risk. “Pavements were not designed to keep pedestrians safe,” he says, “but so you could walk the street without getting your feet covered in horse dung.”

Monderman long argued that the overuse of signage was due to a misguided culture of risk avoidance among town planners. “Each time someone complains,” he told TIME, “something gets added to the system. And no one asks if it’s effective.” But for the shared-space faithful, bigger prizes are at stake than mere road safety. For Moylan, the promise is “civilization and dancing in the streets.” Likewise, Monderman rhapsodized that, “Eye contact and the consultation between civilians in public space is the highest quality you can get in a free country.” His enduring vision echoes that of a poetic pedestrian from an earlier era — Oscar Wilde, who once mused: “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” Thanks to Monderman, we can now pause to wonder whether we need the gutter at all.

With reporting by Laura Laabs/Berlin

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