Could this be the year Christchurch becomes a beach city, proudly facing east to herald a revived New Brighton? That’s Rob Hall’s vision, and as CEO of Development Christchurch Ltd (DCL), he’s leading the charge to change the fortunes of the seaside community.
Like many long-term Christchurch residents, Hall recalls countless excursions to Brighton as a youngster. For decades it was the place to go, the place to be seen, and on Saturdays it was the only place open.
Today the vibe is vastly different - empty shops, empty lots, overflowing rubbish bins and towards the beach end of the mall, a small collection of mostly discount retailers.
Most shopkeepers view schemes to revitalise New Brighton with skepticism - many plans have been presented over the years, some implemented in part but with little long-term gain.
So what is DCL proposing? Firstly, a redevelopment of the Brighton foreshore to include a hot salt-water pool complex and a revamped playground. Then DCL wants to link that development to a more modern and compact shopping centre, whilst at the same time keeping Brighton’s seaside charm and character.
Can they pull it off? What do the residents and retailers think of the master plan? Do they even know about it?
Hall says they want to engage with the local community, but equally they need to be getting on with work now. He says the people of New Brighton have been waiting long enough.