Property Dave Henderson has often said that his ‘vision’ for central Christchurch ‘dovetails’ with that of Mayor Bob Parker – as it did with former mayor Garry Moore (now advising the Christchurch City Council as a ‘private consultant’ on ‘urban renewal.’)

What is that plan? Essentially Henderson and Parker want to drive 30,000 people into living in the city – into what Henderson loftily describes as a ‘classic mixed use urban neighbourhood.’

This was the scheme Moore pushed and his successor – Parker- is continuing to pursue this futile plan

If the plan was ever fulfilled all it would have done is create urban ghettos and push up house prices even more.

But it’s a plan that has been accepted uncritically by Parker’s supporters on the council.

Fortunately though, it’s never going to happen.

The reality is the Christchurch business district is now a beast that can’t be tamed.

It is the product of long years of council incompetence and inaction that has allowed large malls to be built in all areas of the city.

Henderson’s vision – of building bars and cafes in city alleyways and refitting old offices with cheap apartments – is not going to change this.

Parker often talks of creating a ‘metropolitan city centre’ – but this is a big town of some 300,000 people. It’s not London. It’s not New York. It’s not even Melbourne.

But Parker and his council supporters continue with this folly. At the same time they have allowed property developers to run riot in the suburbs. Character houses have been demolished to be replaced by nasty concrete boxes.

Meanwhile Henderson continues to blow hot air about his ‘mixed urban environment’.

Some of his fans mistake his grandiose bluster for ‘vision’. That would be okay except Henderson’s House of Cards is always built on other people’s money. Like the small investors in Hanover Finance and Dominion Finance for instance.

Now his pals in the Christchurch City Council have given him $17 million of ratepayer’s money so he can attempt to carry on with his folly.


  1. References abound from Parker, Sue Wells (and not very many other people) to a "master-plan" for urban renewal in Christchurch?

    Where do I go to see this plan please?

    I have seen a few light-on-fact glossy productions printed at great cost by Council in recent years, but nowhere have I seen any sort of cohesive "vision" of the kind that we mere mortals are being told exists here, but which exists in the minds of game-show hosts and others who know so much better than you or I.

    The few vague mentions of "city revitalisation" certainly never make mention of any of the specific sites or even the city blocks that this deal encompasses.

    What have I missed? C'mon Bob et al ..... give me the weblink to the "master-plan" on the CCC website, please?

  2. Here, for instance, is the "Lanes Project". It stops at Tuam Street! What does the gang of four, Henderson, Moore, Parker, and Marryatt know, that we don't? Who has been quietly buying up property with insider knowledge, perhaps?

    (if the link doesn't work, just go to and search "lanes network")

  3. Hi Steven,

    If I could summarise your post it would be as follows:

    “The Council and Dave Henderson have been working on an urban renewal plan for the centre of Christchurch which would see 30,000 people living in the centre of Christchurch. This would raise house prices.

    Fortunately, this plan will never happen.

    The centre of Christchurch is a beast that can’t be tamed as a result of council incompetence. The large malls in the suburbs have contributed to this.

    Christchurch, at 300,000 people is too small to have a metropolitan city centre.

    Henderson is a scumbag”

    It’s an interesting viewpoint, but it seems a little like someone posting something as simple as “Council bad, Henderson bad”. That may be your opinion (and it may even be true) but it doesn’t elucidate what you think should be happening with Christchurch. Your view seems a little fatalistic, in my opinion.

    You acknowledge that the centre of Christchurch is hardly full of life. And that it’s been screwed up. But how is this to be fixed? According to you, obviously not by having people live in the centre of Christchurch. (How adding to the housing supply drives up house prices is beyond me, but I’m happy to park that for now). If it’s not bringing in a resident population, what?

    I guess my point is that you offer no alternative vision. You simply say, - “I don’t like this plan. The centre of Christchurch is screwed. The suburbs are screwed. Christchurch is not big enough to be a proper city. Henderson is bad”.

    It is easy to knock “vision” or ideas, but much harder to come up with, and implement, ideas to solve problems.

    Let’s say you have unlimited funds and power to fix Christchurch. What do you do?

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  5. "Here, for instance, is the "Lanes Project". It stops at Tuam Street!"

    Neafarious. The link you have posted to is the "existing" lanes network. That might explain why.

    "Where do I go to see this plan please?" "The few vague mentions of "city revitalisation" certainly never make mention of any of the specific sites or even the city blocks that this deal encompasses."
    "The few vague mentions of "city revitalisation" certainly never make mention of any of the specific sites or even the city blocks that this deal encompasses."

    Two minutes of searching around the link you provided and I found this...

    Although I haven't looked at it in detail, it looks to be a reasonably comprehensive and cohesive plan.

  6. I also have a problem with Cowans notion of ghetto. Urban ghettos relate to the social positions of those living in the neighbourhood. Ghettos house impoverished residents and the housing is generally run down because of age. One believes the concept of "classic mixed use neighbourhoods' means a mix of modern living and retail space. That is my understanding of the concept and i believe it is a good goal. It may never happen, however the only alternative is to allow developers to redevelop property and we may end up with a central city consisting of horrible Rebel Sports, Pak n Save etc. This to me is not what i want for the central city and creating apartments etc will bring more people into the central city, and so long as those purchasing the apartments etc maintain a reasonable standard of living they will look after their neighbourhod. It is impoverished residents that create ghettos not those able to afford to purchase modern inner city property. I suggest Nefarious is being somewhat disingenuous by claiming to not understand the masterplan. One believes it is quite simple and the overall vision is to revitalise the central city by creating a mix of residential and retail development with a stronger focus on residential, which one believes is currently lacking. The more populated the central city has will lead to more businesses opening particularly in what is currently empty retail space and every week one notices more retail businesses closing. One believes their needs to be a disconect between recent events and what could be accomplished in the future. I also wonder what "the beast" is as Cowan states?. However that being said, bailing out a former bankrupt in the way the council has done is not appropriate and it is that process i have the most distain for and not the revitalisation vision.

  7. I admit that I made the post above before I had trawled to the very end of the plan which, as I said "stops at Tuma Street", and found the interesting appendix on page 27.

    Here, we find a concept produced by Henderson's own tame USA-based urban experts, which indeed does extend through as far as Moorehouse Avenue. No comment is really offered as to why this document, produced by a private developer, is a part of the "Lanes Project". In fact, one could be forgiven for thinking it has been conveniently buried away.

    Take a step on, and everything becomes marvelously clear:

    1: Private developer produces a "master plan" and quietly insinuates it into the thinking of those at City Hall.

    2: Private developer starts buying up all of the properties that would benefit most by being integral to this plan, assuming that his plan is going to become the City's plan. All being done very quietly, and without any public fanfare at all, and, after all, what would he want the public to get in on the act, until he had his own commercial position completely secure, and enshrined ultimately in the City Plan

    3: Private developer goes broke. Oops! This was not meant to happen. I guess his mates at City Hall (the ones who are quietly but earnestly working away on a plan that would offer him huge commercial gains) are just going to have to keep him afloat with a bridging loan courtesy of the ratepayer. But hey, we still want to make sure that ultimately he will be the owner of properties that could conceivably sky-rocket in value.

    All so simple, wasn't it - and we are meant to believe there is not a whiff of corruption or conflict-of-interest in any of this. Davey, and friends, were purely acting all along 'for the good of the city'.

  8. and, at "Mr":

    I think we can safely assume that the comment "Fortunately, this plan will never happen", was intended to read "unfortunately .....".

    It's not the first time that you have attempted to seize on what, to others, seem obvious typos, in order to build you own arguments ;)

  9. Mr - do you actually have anything positive to add, other than making negative comments about other posts?

    I'm not being negative - I'm being realistic.

    My 'vision' of urban renewal is one that is based on community participation and sustainibility.

    The council should be acting as a community advocate and as an instrument for community involvement.

    What we have now is a model being imposed on the people of Christchurch by Parker and Henderson and their council supporters.

    Why haven't the people of Christchurch been involved in deciding what they want from their city. Why is Henderson's way the only way?

    Why should 'the market' dictate what is required? Why not the community?

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  11. Steven. Perhaps you can clarify. Nefarious thinks you meant to say "Unfortunately, this plan will never happen", and I read it (as well as being in context) that you meant ""Fortunately, this plan will never happen".

    I'm actually trying to start a dialogue to understand your position. You basically wrote in your post that you didn't like the "vision" for inner city Christchurch (or the suburbs for that matter) and I simply inquired about what your preferred "vision" for the inner city is.

    It's all very well to describe things as being "a futile plan" but quite another to not offer any view on what you think should happen.

    The only thing you have offered is that your vision is "community participation and sustainability". While that is nice - it's not a vision. It doesn't give any idea what you would like Christchurch to look like.

    I guess I could try taking it in steps. Do you think that areas like Poplar lane and South of Lichfield are an improvement to inner city Christchurch? Why/Why not. Do you think it is a good idea to introduce more residential to inner city Christchurch? Why/Why not?

    You think I'm being negative, but I'm just trying to have a discussion above the noise and fury .

  12. Myself, I work and own property right in the CBD, and have done for more than 25 years.

    My personal opinion is that the dream is futile. Christchurch is too far gone, and there are simply so few reasons for anybody to want to live in the central city - either now, or in 25 years from now.

    The cities that some would seek to emulate are all great cities because they have geographic boundaries. Wellington, London, New York, Sydney, they are all limited in where they can grow, by hills and water.

    Christchurch is a Los Angeles. There was a chance to save it, by strong planning and vision, but those chances are dead and buried now.

    I see it every week. The sort of people being attracted to live in the CBD are low-grade tenants. It is now a city of brothels, bars, and early 20th century building stock which should have been knocked down years ago! Unless somebody has literally billions of dollars to spend on a clean-sheet approach, town-planning totally reverses urban sprawl, and the population increases by at least 5-fold, none of this can or will ever happen.

    The best we will see is tinkering at the edges of the problem, and the self-aggrandisement of people like Henderson, Parker and Marryatt.

    A few months ago I had a conversation with one of the main movers and shakers on the CCC payroll - a man who is heavily involved in the promotion of schemes like the "Lanes Project". I asked him what he was doing to make the city safe for young people at night, other than a playground for the binge-drinkers who are attracted to developments like "SOL Square". His reply: "I would never let my own children come in to Christchurch at night". Even he is resigned to where the city is heading.

  13. Cleaning up the money

    I hope Steve will allow comments of his analysis here, abusive ones especially.
    This is the only site I have discovered away from the conventional ‘Press’ which is tackling the problem of .. commercial stupidity by Council, a Council which is a hegemony of inflated ego’s who have visions.
    Visions which allow them to ignore the citizens.

    But it is imperative that comments here are not just re-iteration of opposition to Council.
    After all over at the site e-democracy

    I have got away with giving Sue Wells and others the Medal of Stupidity and disgrace without any complaint.

    Your correspondent “Mr.” alerted me to the pdf

    This describes in pretty pastel pictures and planner gobbledygook write the new socialised plan. This and his other comments I found useful, not negative.

    “Nefarious” perhaps should give up looking for the MASTER PLAN plan in Council documents for I suspect it is inside the Master’s head.

    A legal question I have. Will there be a roll over of liability from one Henderson Company to another. He has about 80 companies in the register, and of course theses are designed so that you can switch the goods [ transferrable short term assets ] over here, and the bads [ liabilities] to over there.

    I heard some assessor say that it was possible the High Court may have had enough of this sort of thing.

    Say Henderson is declared bankrupt. How then will they give him his property back after we have paid holding costs.?

    Does all this help slick Bob’s career any good. I think not.
    Who paid the price for the library and Edgeware swimming pool fall out.,
    Not busy body Sue Wells .. Not tag the taggers Barry Corbett ..
    Not expansive Mike walls or sudden convert to the Master’s plan Ngaire Button ..nor conservative Claudia, wacko Gail Sherrif, or the other inner City Visionaries Cox and Shearing.

    It was Mayor Gary Moore who took the fall.

    All this social nonsense falls on old slick himself, and that’s we have just had another sideshow with the dough nut man
    He has a reprieve for one year.

    Sincerely, Paul Scott

  14. I don't pretend to be an urban planner but I tend to agree with nefarious.

    I think the 'mixed urban' concept is fine in theory and, indeed, is working in other overseas cities who ahev much larger populations.

    But, again, I think many years of incompetence and inaction by successive councils - has indeed created a central city that is too far gone.

    As nefarious says, what we are witnessing is tinkering at the edges - and mostly for the commercial self-interest of Henderson.

    It is objectionable that public money should now be dished out to Hendo to bail him out.

    How does SOL add to the city anyway? I'm not a frequenter of bars so I'm going on what people have told me, but it appears to be just another hangout for drinkers and the usual Friday and Saturday mayhem.

    I also understand one of the restaurants - Minx? - has been closed for some months.

    Meanwhile folk at the Mt Pleasant Community Centre are turned down by the council for a $5000 grant. And, a thriving community resource, the Edgeware swimming pool, is demolished.

    Whose interests is this counncil actually serving? No prizes for guessing.

  15. Great Steve,

    Now we may be having the start of a productive discussion.

    You are not a planner (neither am I) and you think that the mixed use concept has some merit (so do I), but you think that it only works for large metropolitan cities (here we disagree).

    My point is that you are ready to to call this a "failed vision" without offering what is wrong with the vision, or an alternative. Your, and nefarious', posts are now saying that the center of the city is too far gone. So what do we and the council do? Throw our hands up and bitch and moan about how horrible the place has and will become?

    You may not frequent bars and restaurants, but plenty of others do, and the feedback around town in general is that Poplar Lane, SOL etc are great places to go for a night out. Having spent some time in both, there appears to be a great mixs of bars, cafes, retail, accomodation and office. In my opinion, it is certainlt a step in the right direction.

    One question would be, would you like to see more of this type of place in Christchurch or less? Are the Lane developments positive for Christchurch as a city or negative?

    I for one say positive. 5 years ago these lanes were full of drug users and prostitutes. Now they are a vibrant part of Christchurch where I would take visitors. That's got to be a good thing

    While I have reservations about the nature of this council deal I absolutely must pull you up on proclaiming this all to be a "failed vision" for Christchurch. Your alternative appears to be no vision becuase Christchurch is "a central city that is too far gone." That could NOT be less useful.

    This is not just about this deal, as you have been slamming the lanes developments before any information on this deal came to light. I would repeat my question:

    Do you think that areas like Poplar lane and South of Lichfield are an improvement to inner city Christchurch? Why/Why not? Do you think it is a good idea to introduce more residential to inner city Christchurch? Why/Why not?

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  17. @"Mr":

    You make some giant leaps. No, SOL Square is not a pleasant place at night-time. It is simply a relocation of the strip to the other side of town, and there have been a number of violent incidents in the area that have caused the Police concern.

    You also make comments designed to reinforce your argument such as "I for one say positive. 5 years ago these lanes were full of drug users and prostitutes. Now they are a vibrant part of Christchurch where I would take visitors."

    Wrong! I have worked at nights in the area of some of those lanes for the last 25 years, and a few junkies: yes - prostitutes: no. The lanes are more dangerous now than they were before.

    I think you are indulging in a misty-eyed vision, rather than having actual first hand experience on any sort of regular basis.

    My observations are fact.

    So too are my earlier comments that the only people thus-far drawn to live in the CBD are lo-grade tenants. Foreign students and others with very little disposable income inhabit most of the shoe-box apartments that have been jammed into old buildings by the likes of Henderson. The only person getting rich from them is/was him.

    I stand by my original comment. This "plan" will not work in Chch, without either 5 times the population, a dramatic shift in town-planning policy that actually forces closure of several suburban malls, or a big chunk of the city is demolished all at once and started again from a clean slate. Even then, you have to give people reasons to want to live in the CBD (is that bars and brothels, because there is not a lot else at night), and the feeling that they are safe in living there, and at this point in time it is now so very dangerous that I myself never walk anywhere in the central city on my own after 9pm.

    It is "too far gone"

    (and while the city's visionaries are organising life for the rest of us minions, perhaps they can solve the methamphetamine problem, because that too is a major contributor to why the city is such a hazardous place to walk.)

    Footnote: No comments from anyone on the uncanny coincidence of Henderson's own planners being the ones who produced the "plan" and fed it to Council, and him being the one who was quietly hoarding the property which could be affected by it?

  18. Nefarious, there is no point in having a discussion with you. You appear to hate Dave Henderson and that is your right. I'm pretty sure I'll grow an extra arm out of my forehead before you have a nice thing to say about anything to do with him or any of his developments. In this regard I think you have an - at best - jaundiced view on all matters pertaining to him.

    I have spent a fair amount of time in both Poplar Lane and SOL. They are, most of the time, very pleasant places to be and probably the best two entertainment areas in Christchurch. Visitors who I have taken there are amazed by the lanes and have had an enjoyable time. Previously, I have spent time at the strip. Which one had to leave before 8pm and the hordes of 18 year old descended. It is the same with the whole of Manchester St with their 2 for 1 drink specials etc.

    To say that the lanes were safer before Poplar Lane and SOL is so far removed from reality that it is not worth pursuing. If your only issues is that there have been violent incidences at some times then we would need to close every bar in town for safety. Again, you are so jaundiced in regards to Henderson that you can't seem to be objective in regards to the urban environment.

    I am sure that nearly every person would agree that the lanes are an improvement on what was there before. The fact that you refuse to acknowledge this simply serves to reinforce my opinion that your venom toward Henderson, however warranted, precludes you from contributing meaningfully toward any discussion.

    Your view is that Christchurch city is too far gone and can't be fixed [and Steve called me negative!]. Prehaps you should stand for council with this vision?

    With this mindset, one can assume that it is unlikely that you will ever be satisfied with any development that occurs in the center of christchurch (except for the day the two hundred bulldozers come in). You'll excuse me if I form the belief that there is no point in enagaging you further on what should and should not happen in Christchurch city.

  19. By the way, in case any one is note sure what "The lanes" are, here is a link with a few pictures and discussion.

  20. Significantly, "Mr" again completely avoids making any comment on the uncanny series of coincidences in the last paragraph of my last post.

    Do I hate Henderson? Yes, I depise him with a passion. He represents the very worst kind of bullying ego-centric individual who could possibly be involved in a concept of this kind (putting aside any debate as to whether or not it is viable, to begin with)

    Although you see what is often described as his "bar on every corner" approach as a demonstration of great "vision and passion", I see it as making money in the easiest way possible.

    Having him in any way associated with this master-plan is in fact a huge handicap to it. There are many, many peoiple who own property in the CBD that would be far more enthusiastic about touchy-feely dreaming such as in the pdf on the Council's website, if it was not all tainted by his involvement. I am one of them, obviously!

    (Remember, I'm not worth engaging with, so unless you have a belated response to the question that has been repeatedly posed, I guess I won't be hearing more from you in this forum) :)

  21. Nefarious_2000,

    Are you a neighbour of Hendersons?

    If so, it's a bit rich for you to to have a go at him for running bars and nightclubs...

  22. as expected, no response, and another side-step. I'm starting to wonder just how close "Mr" is to the other team.

  23. Nefarious, I haven't responded to your last point, because it wasn't included in your original post. You reposted a post containing the add on. I also don't want to get into an in depth conversation on the lanes plan because I have no expertise in it and I'm not going to have the time to read it or do any research into it. Even if, I did and I showed that it was impartial and the plan existed prior, I wouldn't change your mind.

    As I said. You have never said anything positive about anything relating to Hendersons developments in South of Lichfield and Poplar lane and are never going to.

    I do have experience in drinking, socialising and eating in Poplar lane and SOL, so that's what I feel comfortable discussing. Given that you have quite an obvious hatred for Henderson and his developments, it serves no purpose in me spending time debating with you. You will not change your mind at all. You think that the lanes were better before SOL and Poplar lane. That is not a rational perspective, and one not shared by 99% (in my opinion) of the public.
    If you can't bend on that, you will never bend on anything at all.

    Also, given that you think that the marriage of the children of two councilors is all part of a master plan, you seem to think that every thing is a conspiracy.

    However, I did try and search for one of your posts which inadventantly led me to information which probably explains your perspective on things.

    Care to confirm if you own any bars near Hendersons SOL project?

    I guess if I did own nearby bars, I wouldn't be happy about losing business to new ones. It would, however, be a bit rich to complain about developments consisting of bars though and making the city less safe through more bars.

  24. Do your homework. Poplar Lane has nothing to do with Henderson, nobody has expressed any issues with that development, and, yes, it is quite a pleasant place to have a drink. Q.E.D.

    The matter that you suddenly claim to be ill-qualified to answer (despite the fact that you have quite clear opinions on other aspects of the debate) is impossible to defend, hence perhaps your avoidance.

  25. O.K. I guess the fact that you enjoy Poplor lane and despise South of Lichfield only further underscore my point about your viewpoint.

    Like I said, I can't comment on your accusation because I don't know when Henderson bought his properties, who commissioned the report, who voted etc etc. It wouldn't matter what I said, you'de just spout off a new round of conspiracy theory.

    Now to the question that you seem to be dodging Nefarious...

    Can you confirm if you own any bars near Hendersons SOL project?

  26. I'm not dodging anything, but you do seem to have a fundamental misunderstanding of the ethos of the internet, and the basic netiquette that should prevail in forums.

    This debate is about the issues of possible corruption, conflict of interest in the ccc, and mismanagement of ratepayer's money. (Probably a few other aspects too, but those 3 seem to sum it up)

    I have absolutely no interest in who you are, and if I did, I would not be trying to subect you to an inquisition in this forum.

    Suffice to say, there is absolutely NO competitive aspect that would reduce the validity of my concerns and opinions, particularly concerning the business conduct and amorality of Henderson, whose activities I have paid attention to since the late 1970's.

  27. I see. Some kind of net etiquitte prevents me from forcing you to answer questions on your identity and agenda.

    Where was that net etiquitee and ethos when you were on here publicising the lifes of politicians, ex politicians and the private lives of their children? Why don't they deserve the same privacy that you suddenly want?

    Where was Dave Henderson's privacy when you wrote: Most amusing though was watching "reformed alcoholic" Dave Henderson staggering down there 2 weekends ago! Stress does terrible things to people. ?

    By your "rules" it is not ok to ask people to disclose their information, but it is appropriate to put peoples private information out there if you don't like them or their associates.

    I can just as easily bring in your private life in to show some tawdry hidden agenda. Why does privacy apply to you but not them?

  28. [quote]"Where was that net etiquitee (sic) and ethos when you were on here publicising the lifes of politicians, ex politicians and the private lives of their children? Why don't they deserve the same privacy that you suddenly want?"[/quote]

    Do I really have to explain that to you?

    *sigh*, ok

    Because they have chosen public lives

    Now, why don't you go back and plump up Dave's pillows some more?


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