Project background  

The northern access into Christchurch is already under pressure and this will only increase as the region grows. How does this project fit into future plans for Christchurch and how will it solve transportation issues.

Pre-construction consultation 2010–15

Following extensive community and stakeholder consultation the NZ Transport Agency announced its plans for the Christchurch Northern Corridor in September 2011. Consultation with the community and stakeholders throughout 2010–14 has helped to shape the final design, with changes made where safety and function would allow.

Consenting in late 2014 and early 2015 provided  further opportunity for the community to share their views on this project.

A designation (protection) on the land needed between the Waimakariri and QEII Drive has been in place for over 35 years. However this designation was not wide enough for a modern four-lane road with the associated pedestrian/cycleway and mitigation measures required (stormwater treatment, landscaping, noise barriers). A designation was also needed for the QEII Drive to Innes Road section of the project.

In mid 2012 the NZ Transport Agency formally lodged a Notice of Requirement advising the Christchurch City Council that we intended to alter (realign and widen) the existing designation.Resource consents from Environment Canterbury were also required for stormwater discharge and the construction of culverts and bridges. These applications were publicly notified in November 2014 and the submission period closed on 19 December 2014. All designation and consent are now in place. 

The Transport Agency and Christchurch City Council would like to thank all those who take the time to provide feedback. Your ideas are valuable to us whether or not we can make the changes hoped for.

Key events

  • The August 2010 newsletter asked the community for feedback on the Christchurch Northern Corridor project.

  • Open days were held in November 2010.

  • A public meeting was held in February 2011 in the Winters/Grimseys Road area to explain and hear feedback on all the Christchurch Northern Corridor projects.

  • The project team then narrowed down the options and carefully considered the feedback received to come up with a solution.

  • The preferred solution for the Christchurch Northern Corridor was outlined in the September 2011 newsletter.

  • Ongoing consultation and negotiation with affected parties.

  • Consenting process for all the Christchurch Northern Corridor projects – late 2014 and early 2015.

Consultation history

August–September 2010

The August 2010 newsletter [PDF, 550 KB] sought feedback on a range of alignment and connection options.Specific options considered were:

  • alternatives to stopping Factory and Ford roads
  • access onto the Northern Arterial from Belfast Road
  • alignment options for Prestons Road and Radcliff Road overbridges
  • local road connections at QEII Drive
  • priority connections at QEII Drive (to/from the port or to/from the city)
  • location and extent of the pedestrian and cycle route
  • movements in and out of Grimseys Road
  • three Arterial alignment options in the Kaputone Creek Area between Belfast Road and just south of the Styx River (with each option crossing the Styx River in a slightly different location):
    • following the existing designation alignment and is on the western side of Kaputone Creek
    • along the eastern side of Kaputone Creek
    • an eastern most alignment
  • realignment of Kaputone Creek to avoid two stream crossings
  • realignment or closure of Guthries Road.

The feedback period on the above matters closed on 1 October 2010.

Project open day – November 2010

The NZ Transport Agency held a public open day to discuss the proposed options and seek further community feedback on 16 November 2010. This was held at the Belfast Rugby Clubrooms (18 March Place, Belfast). NZ Transport Agency staff and the project consultants attended to discuss the options being considered for the project(At the open day information was also provided on the other Roads of National Significance project in the Belfast area: the Western Belfast Bypass.)

Public meeting – February 2011

In February a well-attended public meeting was held at Papanui Primary School.  At this meeting the Christchurch City Council and the NZ Transport Agency outlined the northern corridor projects and detailed the plans for the QEII Drive interchange and access arrangements for the Winters Road area.

Project delay – Christchurch earthquakes

The next project newsletter was planned to go out in March/April 2011.  As a result of the 22 February earthquake, this was postponed as many Christchurch residents were not in a position to devote time to responding to consultation – and we wanted to make sure everyone had an opportunity to have their say. Some NZ Transport Agency staff and our consultants and contractors were also working in earthquake recovery roles and others needed time to deal with accommodation issues of their own.Work on the Northern Arterial investigation recommenced in April 2011 including technical assessments and addressing of issues raised during consultation.

Preferred solution announced – September 2011

The project team assessed a range of potential alignment and access options. The chosen layout was outlined in the September 2011 Newsletter [PDF, 942 KB] delivered to over 2500 properties in the area.The September 2011 newsletter outlined the additional options looked at as a result of consultation and the changes made to the design. The newsletter presented the noise reduction methods proposed for the project. The newsletter also outlined the next steps in the planning process, where to find more information and who to contact.  Christchurch City Council contact information was provided for the Northern Arterial Extension and the Cranford Street Upgrade project.Following this the project team continued to work on the project plans and followed up issues and concerns raised by the community.

Joint NZ Transport Agency and Christchurch City Council project consenting

The consenting process for the Northern Arterial was run jointly with the Christchurch City Council’s projects – the Northern Arterial Extension, the Cranford Street Upgrade and the Cranford Street Basin Project.To follow is a timeline for this process:

  • Notice of Requirement and Resource Consent applications were lodged for the Northern Arterial in 2012 and for the Christchurch City Council projects in 2014. 
  • A joint public notification was made on 15 November 2014, giving the community another opportunity to have their say by making a submission.
  • Submission period closed – Friday 19 December 2014.
  • Hearing – autumn 2015.
  • Recommendations from the commissioners – later in 2015.

Existing situation

The existing State Highway 74 (Main North Road) is a vital transport corridor for the Canterbury region. Passing through the urban areas of Belfast and Redwood, it currently provides the main access from the north to Christchurch City centre, and to Lyttelton Port via QEII Drive.The existing state highway caters for local and through traffic, public transport and cyclists. Around 42,000 vehicles per day use Main North Road north of Johns Road dropping to 35,000 in the Redwood area, while QEII Drive currently carries over 20,000 vehicles per day (2015 figures).Significant congestion is already experienced at peak times, leading to delays for motorists and freight and reduced safety for all road users.

The effects of increasing traffic volumes

The Main North Road (State Highway 1 and then 74), with its large volumes of traffic, including heavy freight, cuts the Belfast and Redwood communities in two. As traffic volumes continue to grow (as they are expected to do) congestion will worsen, and safety and public health concerns will increase around the Redwood and Belfast Areas. Conflicts between through traffic and local traffic, public transport and walking and cycling will continue to worsen along Main North Road as further development takes place.Recently traffic volumes have risen quite sharply due to rapid residential and business relocations into the northwest as a result of the Christchurch earthquakes.Our traffic modelling shows that by 2026 the number of vehicles on Main North Road (Redwood) per day will be 42,000 if the Christchurch Northern Corridor is not built and 24,000 if it is built. Traffic volumes on this road are currently 35,000, a result of changes in travel patterns since the earthquakes.Currently there are 15,000 vehicles a day on Marshlands Road, by 2026 there would be 29,000 vehicles a day if the Christchurch Northern Corridor is not built or 18,000 if the Christchurch Northern Corridor is built.By 2026, the proposed Christchurch Northern Corridor will carry 37,000 vehicles a day.(This modelling is based on post-earthquake traffic flows and updated development and growth predictions, and assumes the Western Belfast Bypass, another NZ Transport Agency Roads of National Significance project, is built. By 2026 the Western Belfast Bypass will carry 24,000 vehicles a day.)An efficient and reliable transport network into, out of and across Greater Christchurch is vitally important to the social, economic and environmental future of the city and South Island. Similarly, transport links to Lyttelton Port are critical in supporting New Zealand trade.

Planning for future urban growth

The Greater Christchurch Urban Development Strategy(external link) sets out the plan for growth in Greater Christchurch through to 2041. The Christchurch Northern Corridor project is a key part of this strategy, as it allows residential and industrial growth in Northwest Christchurch (including Belfast), and improves transportation links benefiting all of Christchurch and Canterbury.The Belfast area is identified for future urban growth in the Greater Christchurch Urban Development Strategy(external link).Under this umbrella Christchurch City Council has developed the Belfast Area Plan (external link) to encourage and manage the growth of Belfast into the future. The Christchurch Northern Corridor project is seen as critical for the success of Belfast as a thriving, safe and cohesive community.The Christchurch City Plan identified a future state highway connecting the existing Northern Motorway with QEII Drive and bypassing the Belfast and Redwood area for over 35 years.While the designation (land protection) has been in place for many years, it was not wide enough for the features expected of modern road construction, such as noise buffers, stormwater treatment and landscaping. The corridor for the arterial therefore requires widening.The Northern Access Corridor poster and the Christchurch Northern Corridor Timeline poster below shows how this project has developed over time, how it links in with plans for Christchurch.