Posted by Grant Paice on Sep 18, 2018

Bringing a Natural Forest to the Centre of Christchurch

The Eden Project NZ
Martin Hadlee and Ray Sleeman shared details of the inspirational Eden Project concept that is being promoted as a huge opportunity for Christchurch going forward.
The goal of the Trust is to bring something inspirational to Christchurch. Based on the successful Eden Project in Cornwall, which created a highly successful international tourist complex in a china clay pit, Eden focusses on connecting people to an open world based on the value of transformational thinking. 
After phenomenal success in the UK, Eden is now keen to take this concept to the world stage by promoting the idea that the future is in our hands to take what presents as a derelict site and transforming it into something spectacular which becomes a catalyst for ongoing change.
Given the challenges faced recently this is a huge opportunity for us.  Ray shared that Christchurch currently has little visitor appeal as evidenced by the city having fallen out of the top 20 visitor destinations as recently reported by Lonely Planet.
The Trust feels we need high quality attractions focussed on all markets including the international market in particular. 
“Why Eden?” Martin shared that the concept has been well proven and has significant experience in how to successfully scope, build and operate a highly successful venture.
In terms of location, current planning is based on transforming the Ōtākaro Avon River corridor.  Why the Red Zone? Because it is not only a fantastic opportunity to revitalise this area but also a huge opportunity for Eastern suburbs.
“What is it like?”  Martin explained that in developing the concept it needed to be strongly based on building a cultural story on managing change.  Designs will be distinctly NZ in flavour and say Christchurch has arrived in developing a busy, focussed and interactive truly international facility.
It will be distinctly NZ with significant input from local and NZ wide Iwi focussed on sustainability with an emphasis on the interaction between water and human habitation.  It will include educational based facilities as we rebuild the city.  This will require amending water flow systems to ensure sustainability.
The main site will have three themed sites that includes story scapes and another that brings science and education together (see the Eden Project website for more details).
Discounts will be given for low energy vehicles accessing the site including the use of bicycles.
The various services and attractions offered will be constantly reviewed and regularly updated.  Some of these include walks, zip lines, on site accommodation, food and retail facilities.  With respect to construction, all building will be made strong enough to be able to survive future disasters. 
In terms of economic impact, the additional visitors to Christchurch will potentially create $49 million in new spending by 2027.  With respect to financing, a combination of private and public funding partnerships will be required to make Eden feasible going forward.
While the project has CCC support, it is taking time to gain traction as a function of it’s size, complexity and the number of potential players involved but the planning team is committed.
We wished Martin, Ray and the Project well in what has the potential to be a significant international attraction for Christchurch going forward.