Successful cities need attractive central city neighbourhoods with diverse communities to support business growth and development, and bring life to the city centre.

International findings suggest that cities the size of Christchurch require 3% to 6% of their population living in the central city to support a prosperous commercial and entertainment hub. In Christchurch, this equates to between 11,000 and 23,000 people, based on the current population estimates in the city. 

Topic

Status

Key findings

Four Avenues population Increasing trendIncreasingTrend In June 2018 there were 6160 people living in the Four Avenues. This is three quarters of the pre-earthquake population of 8280. Further information
Change in population since the earthquakes Decreasing trend
DecreasingTrend
The population of the Four Avenues declined after the earthquakes to a low of 5050 in June 2014. The population has since increased by 1100 people. Further information.
Characteristics of those living in the central city Snapshot
SnapshotOnly

60% of people living in the Four Avenues are aged between 15 and 44 years, compared with 41% for the whole City.

70% of households in the Four Avenues are one-person or couple-only households. Further information.

Length of time living in central city Increasing trendIncreasingTrend The proportion of people who have lived at the same central city address for 5 or more years is increasing. Further information.
Origin of people moving to the central city Increasing trendIncreasingTrend

35% of people living in the Four Avenues resided overseas in 2008.

This has increased from 8% in 1991. Further information.

Central city housing stock Increasing trendIncreasingTrend

The Four Avenues lost an estimated 1500 occupied dwellings as a result of the earthquakes. The number of dwellings has increased each year since 2012. Further information.

Post-earthquake growth in housing Increasing trendIncreasingTrend

Since the February 2011 earthquake, approximately 450 dwellings have been rebuilt.

A further 615 new dwellings have been added to the housing stock. Further information.

Type of housing in the central city Snapshot
SnapshotOnly

70% of dwellings in the Four Avenues are two or more flats or units joined together.

The majority (65%) of them are one or two bedroom dwellings, compared with 28% for Christchurch. Further information.

Satisfaction with living in the central city Snapshot
SnapshotOnly

86% of people living in the central city agreed or strongly agreed that they enjoy living in their neighbourhood in 2017.

This is the same percentage as for the rest of the city. Further information.

Desirability of central city as a place to live Decreasing trend
DecreasingTrend
In 2018, 28% of respondents reported they would consider moving to the central city in the future. Further information.
Perceptions of the range, affordability and design of housing in the central city  Increasing trendIncreasingTrend

In 2018, over two thirds of respondents agreed that there was a range of housing options in the central city.

27% agreed that housing was well designed, and 17% agreed that housing was affordable in the central city. Further information.

Four Avenues population

Before the 2010–2011 Canterbury earthquake sequence, the estimated population in the Four Avenues was 8280 at June 2010. The impact of the earthquakes resulted in the population declining to a low point in 2014 with 5050 people.

Since 2014, the central city population has increased by 1100 people to an estimated 6160 people at June 2018. In 2018, 1.6% of the city's population lived within the Four Avenues, which is below the 3% to 6% target.

Before the earthquakes, the population of the Four Avenues increased at an average annual rate of 106 people per year (from 6800 in 1996 to 8280 in 2010). Since the post-earthquake low reached in 2014, the estimated population has increased by an average of 278 people each year.

The interactive map below shows the meshblock location (within the Four Avenues) in which residents have lived for each census period between 1991 and 2013. The majority of people who live in the Four Avenues are located to the north of Cathedral Square, along the eastern border of Hagley Park, or within the north-east area bounded by Bealey Avenue, Fitzgerald Avenue, Hereford Street and Madras Street.

Characteristics of those living in the central city

Age structure 

In 2013, 60% of people living in the Four Avenues were aged between 15 and 44 years; this compares with 41% of the total population in Christchurch. The proportion of young people (under 25 years of age) has been declining since the beginning of the time series in 1991, whereas age groups between 25 and 35 have been increasing. 

Since 2001, older working age groups (over 25 years of age) have been increasing. This could be due to people staying in the central city rather than moving to the suburbs, and/or the increased desirability of the central city for people whose children have left home.

Household and family structure

In 2013, almost 40% of households in the central city were one-person households, compared with 24% for all of Christchurch. Proportionally, the central city had around 60% more one-person households than the rest of the City.

Only 7% of the central city households were couple with child(ren) household types, compared with 27% for all of Christchurch.

However, the proportion of couple without children households is very similar between the Four Avenues and the city as a whole, at around 30%.  

Since the 1991 census, the proportion of couple without children households in the Four Avenues has increased from 17% to 31% in 2013.

The proportion of multi-person households (e.g. flatmates) has declined from 21% in 1991 to 15% in 2013, and one-person households have declined from 47% to 39.5% over the same period.

The number and proportion of families with children have stayed relatively constant throughout this period.

Length of time living at central city address

The Four Avenues population is more transient than the overall Christchurch population, with around 80% of central city residents in 2013 having moved in the previous 5 years (this includes people who have moved dwelling within the Four Avenues). This compares with 53% for the whole of the City.

The proportion who have resided for more than 5 years at the same address within the Four Avenues has been slowly increasing, although the earthquakes have had a significant impact on the Four Avenues, especially within the more established residential areas around Avon Loop which were red zoned.

Origin of people moving to the central city

The address of residents five years ago gives an indication of where people living in the Four Avenues have moved from. In 2013, 22% of the Four Avenues residents were also living in the Four Avenues in 2008, either at the same address or a different address within the Four Avenues. 

In 2013, 23% of Four Avenues residents had moved from other parts of Christchurch city to the Four Avenues, and 35% were living overseas in 2008. The proportion of the Four Avenues population who had lived overseas five years earlier has increased considerably since 2006, when it was 20%.

Housing stock in the central city

The 2006 census recorded 4000 dwellings in the Four Avenues. After the earthquakes, the number of dwellings declined by 930 to around 3100 at the 2013 census.

The proportion of central city dwellings that were unoccupied increased from 12% to 28% between 2006 and 2013, as a result of both damaged dwellings as well as the red zoning of some central city residential areas. In comparison, the proportion of unoccupied dwellings in Christchurch in 2006 was was slightly lower at 7% and in 2013 this increased to 12%, well below the central city proportion.

As a result of the earthquakes, the estimated number of occupied dwellings in the Four Avenues fell from 3800 in 2010 to 2300 in 2011, a loss of 1500 occupied dwellings. These have since increased to 3200 in 2017 but are still below the pre-earthquake level of 3800.

Post-earthquake residential building activity

Residential building activity is measured through building consents issued by the Council for new dwellings. Some dwellings are replacements for demolished dwellings, while other dwellings are adding to the available housing stock.

Since the February 2011 earthquake (until the end of 2017), around 450 dwellings were issued building consents to be rebuilt (after having been demolished since the quakes), and a further 615 additional new dwellings have been consented for. In total, consents have been issued for over 1000 new dwellings (including rebuilds).

Before the earthquakes, there were an average 68 new dwellings consented per year in the Four Avenues. Since the earthquakes, this has increased to just over 100 dwellings consented per year.

Type of housing in the central city

Dwellings in the Four Avenues are dominated by two or more units which are joined together as town houses or apartment buildings (70% of all dwellings). This is the opposite to the whole of Christchurch, where 73% of dwellings are separate houses. 

Dwellings are generally smaller in the Four Avenues than the rest of the city, reflecting the types of dwellings found there. Two thirds of dwellings in the Four Avenues have one or two bedrooms, whereas this figure is 28% for all of Christchurch, and two thirds of the city's dwellings have 3 or more bedrooms.

Generally the majority of growth in dwellings in the Four Avenues since 1986 has been in 2 and 3 bedroom dwellings. The earthquakes had the greatest impact on one and two bedroom dwellings, which declined by 46 and 29% respectively.

Satisfaction with living in the central city

The 2017 Life In Christchurch survey found residents living in the central city have the same level of satisfaction with living in their neighbourhoods as people living elsewhere in Christchurch city, with 86% satisfaction.

Desirability of central city as a place to live

Respondents to the Life In Christchurch survey were asked if they would consider moving to the central city. In 2018, 28% said that they would consider moving, which is lower than in 2017 (31%). The proportion who would not consider moving under any circumstances remained at 40%.

Of the 782 respondents who in 2018 said they would consider moving to the central city, 57% would consider moving once the rebuild is complete, while 38% were considering it within the next one or two years. Almost 5% were currently looking.

Although these proportions are small, they are encouraging as successful central cities have around 3 to 6% of the city's population living there.

Perceptions of the range, affordability and design of housing in the central city

Respondents to the Life in Christchurch survey were asked about their views on the range, affordability and design of central city housing.

In 2018, 35% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the central city provided a range of housing options. This increased from 32% in 2017.

The proportion of respondents who agreed that that the central city provided well-designed housing remained at 27% in 2018.

However, only 17% agreed that central city housing was affordable, up slightly from 16% in 2016.

 

Further information

Please email monitor@ccc.govt.nz for further information.

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