Neighbourhood case study: Christchurch East Inner City

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  • Christchurch
  • higher density, mixed use, lower cost, urban retrofit
  • rated a medium sustainability neighbourhood by both Observational Tool and Resident Self-Report Tool

Key positives

Key negatives

  • Location close to the CBD
  • Good range of services available locally
  • High housing diversity
  • Social housing included
  • Good public transport service
  • Majority of residents walk, cycle or catch public transport to work
  • Large percentage of residents walk to access services within and outside the neighbourhood
  • Poor walking environment
  • Poor provision of open space
  • No early childhood or high school education within walking distance
  • Cars travelling fast, making walking unsafe was reported as a problem
  • Majority of people feel unsafe walking alone at night
  • Low level of satisfaction with amenities
  • Low levels of neighbourly interaction


Christchurch East Inner City is an older area that has seen continuous re-development over the last 50 or so years. Some of the original, large and often two-storey homes and smaller workers’ cottages built early last century remain and a small number have been renovated.

The condition of dwellings is generally poor, with several abandoned houses and overgrown sections. There are a large number of derelict houses and empty sections, several of which appear to have been this way for some time. Empty sections are commonly used as car parks and some are fenced and gated with barbed wire along the top. Many of the larger two-storey old houses appear to be boarding houses. Overall, the neighbourhood appears quite dilapidated and not cared for; this is especially the case towards the southern boundary of the study area.

A number of medium and higher density dwellings have been built in more recent times. These range from 1960s attached units to modern apartment blocks. Development seems piecemeal and quite poor from an urban design perspective, with many dwellings facing shared driveways rather than the street. The newer (post 1960s) housing stock already looks quite run down in some places and the risk of dilapidation is high. The area is characterised by high impermeable fences along long stretches of the footpath.

Walking and public transport

Because of its location near the centre of Christchurch, public transport and local services are good. Walkability, however, is low, largely because of fast moving traffic and reduced surveillance of the pedestrian space due to the number of high fences. Walking felt unpleasant, especially towards the end of the day (around 5pm) when daylight faded, largely due to the lack of pedestrian traffic and poor surveillance of footpaths.

Amenities and services

A full primary school (year 1-8) is available within walking distance; however, there are no early childhood centres or high schools within walking distance.  There are a variety of local shops present. The area contains several buildings listed by the Historic Places Trust that appear to have adapted well over time and there is some interesting re-use of historic buildings, including the conversion of the historic brewery complex into a gym and arts centre, outside of which is a sheltered dedicated bicycle parking facility.

Public space

Access to reserves is poor.  The Avon Loop sub area has a small neighbourhood park with play equipment and  access to the reserve along the river and is reasonably well catered for in this respect. The area to the south of Kilmore Street however has no public spaces that allow for casual interaction and recreation. Latimer Square is nearby, but has no seating or other facilities and is unlikely to be a place for locals to meet or send their children to play. This is an area which has a reputation as being used by young people walking for prostitution purposes.


The area has been heavily modified for many years, and there are no significant ecological features, with the exception of the Avon River. It is, however, likely that recent development has resulted in an increase in stormwater runoff and there appears to be no mitigation of this.


Old brewery building, Christchurch