Archives for posts with tag: Gough

I agree with a lot of this article about the good and bad of laneways, and recommend that you give it a read. One thing that the author doesn’t really touch on – and that I think is key with respect to the way that lane ways are proposed for the city – is the artificiality of them. Antony Gough has been to Melbourne, and wants to put in little lanes like the ones he saw there. To do this, he is going to put them through his development, and hope that shops populate them. Sure, better than nothing – but not the way that cities evolve lanes. Even in pre-quake Christchurch, you had a stark example of this. Poplar St was a success as shops and bars moved into a group of buildings that had been built up for all manner of purposes over a century; SOL Square was drawn up on a plan, and while the bars did well, it was at the expense of the shops, who had all gone under within a year or so of opening. There was very little life down those lanes during the day.

If Christchurch wants lanes – and we want them to be successful – then the best way forward would be for CERA to let developers work on smaller pockets of land, rather than concentrating development into giant blocks of land, then expecting Potemkin Laneways to be built through them.

 

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A good discussion about the central library rebuild and the future of books from yesterday’s Press.

Cera calls the central library a “community hub of knowledge, research and heritage”; Robertson a “non-commercial neutral place”. This is the library as the anti-shopping mall.

Compare this statement from Christchurch Libraries and Information Manager Carolyn Robertson, with the idea from councillor Gough that we should open the new library up to sponsorship. These are completely ideologically opposed ideas. Lets hope this is one where money doesn’t win.

It didn’t take long, but it looks like expectations for the new central city library project should be downgraded somewhat. Apparently, there isn’t enough money to rebuild the library with the same floor space, and to make it anything other than a tilt-slab barn. So we can either have a smaller, better-designed facility, or a larger, barn-like one – which would totally defeat the idea of having a library as the centre piece of the new city.

Or, we can listen to the ideas of our rich, neo-liberal councillors, who would introduce sponsorship into our public library system:

Cr Jamie Gough suggested staff should look at opportunities to subsidise the project by capitalising on its location. There were billions of dollars being invested in the central city and ample opportunity for commercial partnerships. “There is so much opportunity – it’s the finest address in town,” Gough said. Deputy mayor Ngaire Button agreed, saying she believed it was worthwhile looking for partners and other funding options.

I realise this is a library, rather than a school, but this reminds me of the apocalyptic vision of future schools in the Simpsons, in which children answering questions get partial credit for “Pepsi”. These quakes were a disaster, no one asked for them. John Key said no one in Christchurch would be worse off as a result of them, so why are our schools being closed, and our libraries being opened up to corporate sponsorship?

Everything about this story makes me feel wrong.

Speaking at a Ministry of Awesome event in Christchurch yesterday, Gough said: “I’m sorry, Urban Design Panel, it doesn’t fit your mould. I’m not Westfield.”

I don’t want to be one of those guys who tells the media how to do their job … but aren’t you meant to provide some balance in your stories? What did the Urban Design Panel do to provoke this imbecilic outburst? Because if anyone involved in the Christchurch rebuild needs some aesthetic guidance, it’s Anthony Gough. Judging from the quote above, he didn’t actually say it to the Urban Design Panel, but to the Ministry of Awesome (who have so far proven themselves to be nothing more than a meaningless slogan looking for a pre-loved pile of jargon in which to make their home.)

Sadly, this story represents one of the most detailed discussions of building design that we’ve seen in the rebuild.

A number of property developers in the CBD are complaining about the values which they are being offered for their properties, and may force CERA into using their powers of compulsory acquisition. This obviously isn’t the first article to cover this, but it really seems like the owners are digging in now. As some of us predicted when the blueprint was first announced, it’s given a hand up to a select few developers, whilst giving the finger to others. 

Developer Antony Gough was on the other side of the fence, urging land owners to be ”more realistic”. He said the eastern frame was ”a desert, even before the earthquakes”.

Interesting. I lived in a flat that is now going to be included in the eastern frame, and I don’t recall it being particularly desert-like. In fact, this part of the city, which Gough is so dismissive of, was much more vital and alive than the scummy run-down bars at the end of town which he lorded over. Gough is getting a sweet deal from the CCDU, as one of the developers whose property portfolio is being propped up by CERA limiting the supply of land. His encouraging people to be “more realistic” is just pure self-interest.

When you look at some of the figures being quoted in the story, you can see why these landowners might have a bit of a gripe.

Landowners say CCDU’s property group is making offers that are ”off the planet”. An independent valuation of a Lichfield St site owned by KPI Rothschild Property Group, showed the land was worth about $850,000. The CCDU valuation came back at about $275,000.

These property owners are stuck between a rock and a hard place. It will be really interesting to see what happens if they go past the CCDU deadline, and one of these cases ends up in court. 

Lisle Hood, who owns several Lichfield Lanes precinct sites, said the Government was not treating landowners in ”good faith”. ”Compulsory acquisition [followed by a legal fight] is likely to have a far better outcome for us,” Hood said.

But the whole sorry story goes to show who the government are looking after: property developers – and even, just a select few of them.