Friday, February 1, 2013

All weather swimming key to New Brighton Revival

Groups alongside trams, Christchurch

Probably the only element that hasn't changed in this photo of New Brighton,  taken 100 years ago,  is the obvious strength and coolness of that nor-east wind !

Groups alongside trams, Christchurch. Jones, Frederick Nelson, 1881-1962 :Negatives of the Nelson district. Ref: 1/2-025868-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

The post earthquake plan put forward for New Brighton has some good features - Oram Avenue right through to Hawke Street and new entertainment centre directly across from beach and the (spectacular) library included.  

However it misses the key thing that is needed - making New Brighton a place you can get a swim 365 days a year.  

New Brighton has a gorgeous "here to eternity" long white beach and a good surf and by rights should be a hugely popular beach suburb but it also has on some days a killer on-shore "breeze".  The nor-easter that turns many a fine sunny day in Christchurch into a battle to find shelter from the wind, is an absolute bone-chiller when it first comes off the sea at New Brighton. Equally a joy killer, another Canterbury tradition,  the sudden shift of a warm nor-west wind into a bitter southerly, turning a great day at the beach into a disaster.

Why bother going swimming at New Brighton (or going to New Brighton at all) with these unpredictable factors. Solution?  Design a swimming complex as part of the entertainment centre that is totally nor-easter proofed. Indeed perhaps part of this inside to provide a heated all weather salt water or fresh swimming pool. Move some of those exotic slides and pirate type pools into the complex, that have now been lost from QEII pool now demolished. Give people the option of beach or pool, according to circumstances and the weather.

No other "entertainment" can have the unique "anchor product" consistent value of making New Brighton beach a guaranteed quality swim and water activity zone, and integrating fair weather facilities with foul weather options.

Ice skating? C'mon guys, it just doesn't do it. And you can't "sell" an outer corner of the city on a bit of this and a bit of that - it needs and already has a key marketing and defining character.

 New Brighton (there are heaps around the world, always by the sea of course) spells WATER based fun in any language.

Sure a cinema complex and an ice-skating rink [?]  other novel forms of entertainment will be needed and add-ons will surely come -  but don't throw away that one greatest asset - an ocean from here to Chile - and  several million tons of sand!

It is a giant ocean (The Pacific) but it doesn't mean it doesn't need a bit of supportive infrastructure (Pier and library number one;pool number two).

A petition is circulating to support such ideas which have been previously put forward by longstanding local community board members and local activists Tim Sintes and David East.

It indeed seems simpler and better to remove all north south traffic between Hawke Street and Beresford Street, diverting down the new Oram Avenue extension. and make this a pedestrian plaza with more room for fairs and markets.

What is most important is the principle - to bring some hot coals to Newcastle! Bringing better swimming facilities to a beach!! Counter-intuitive I know, but a key to making New Brighton the full-on place it deserves to be.These guys have given years of service and  know their hood, like those west of the Avon may not.  Hunt it up this petition and sign it! (copies are available around New Brighton including the library) or go to the website 

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