How do we protect what makes communities special to us?
Our city, towns and the countryside of Greater Christchurch are changing. In the city, redevelopment is replacing older, single dwellings with townhouses and apartments. Towns, such as Rolleston and Woodend, are expanding and farmland is being converted into lifestyle blocks and smallholdings. The coastlines and more prominent open hills of Lyttelton Harbour are coming under pressure from development. The look and feel of our communities is changing with this increased urbanisation. How will our sense of place, the emotional bind that many of us have to where we live, be challenged by many of these changes?
Some city neighbourhoods are changing their look, character and demographics as old villas come down and apartments go up. While these changes aren't necessarily good or bad, without careful management the value of the community to its inhabitants may change for the worse.
The use of the countryside in Waimakariri, Selwyn and Banks Peninsula districts is changing the social fabric of rural communities. People moving to the countryside can bring different values and urban expectations of amenities with them. Can this influx into the country of residents referred to as “townies” and their expectations be managed without losing the character of our rural communities?
There are many aspects of our neighbourhoods and communities that make our homes special to us. How is that character and charm being changed with development? Should we worry about old character homes being demolished to make way for blocks of two and three storey apartments? Does having a dairy, café or pub near your house make it seem more like the community you wish to live in? Are the subdivisions being built today the ideal neighbourhoods of tomorrow? What choices need to be made to make the area as good if not better than today?
How do we adapt to an ageing population?
The Greater Christchurch population is getting older and living longer. With fewer young people and more, older people there will be major changes in housing and lifestyles. Will older people still want to live in the suburbs, move to the inner city to be near services and facilities or retire to the country to be part of smaller communities?
There may be fewer people wanting large, family homes but more people wanting smaller, low-maintenance homes. Do we have homes, retirement villages and rest homes suitable for an ageing population, conveniently located close to facilities such as health centres and hospitals? Can we afford to build such homes, or will it be up to our senior citizens to provide for themselves?
How can we meet our communities' needs for services and amenities?
Our communities are demanding more sophisticated, better-located community facilities, such as libraries and swimming pools. Will people want indoor pools open year round and libraries with cafés easily accessed by car, bus or on foot?
As facilities become more high-tech and specialised they become more expensive to build and maintain. With more people wanting facilities different in design and location to those available today, what will happen to existing facilities and can we afford new facilities? Should facilities be close to schools to provide for students, as well as the local communities? What will be the impact of where we live and work on the type, size and location of community facilities?
We're moving to the country (but taking the town with us):
Between 1991 and 2001, the population of Waimakariri District grew by over 32%, and Selwyn District grew by 28%. This huge influx of people has changed some farming service towns into commuter suburbs and transformed some farmland into lifestyle blocks.
We're living longer:
In 2001, 20% of us were under the age of 15 and 14% were over 65 years of age. By 2021, those figures will swap with 15% under the age of 15, but 1 in 5 people in Greater Christchurch aged 65 and over.
We expect more from community facilities:
The days of neighbourhood swimming pools and libraries may be numbered. Community expectations are leading to larger, sophisticated facilities being developed in more central locations, for example QE11 Pool and the South Christchurch Library, replacing smaller local facilities easily reached on foot or by cycle.