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‘Fingers crossed’ for Christchurch Youth Hub resource consent

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The dream to build New Zealand’s first, purpose-built ‘one-stop-shop’ for Youth Health and well-being moves a step closer to reality, with finalised plans soon heading to the Christchurch City Council for resource consent.

Youth Hub Trust Chair Dame Sue Bagshaw says she’s thrilled with the plans and hopes both the council and local community will recognise the detail, careful thought and collaboration which has underlined the project so far.

"It’s been a year of really hard work to get to this stage" she says. "Field Studio of Architecture, Novo Group town planners and the wider team have delivered a vision for a fantastic space, to support both youth service providers and the city’s young people in need, who’ll truly benefit from care given in such a therapeutic environment. We hope to be able to create a real sense of community for the site".

Once built, the Youth Hub in inner-city Salisbury Street will provide medical, mental health, social services, activity spaces, a café and supported transitional accommodation for 23 young people.

Dr Bagshaw says it will deliver a round-the-clock, supervised, holistic environment, delivering much-needed support to young people motivated to overcome their difficulties, get well and improve their lives. She says Christchurch youth, who were purposefully included in the design process, requested a ‘sanctuary-like and homely’ atmosphere for the accommodation spaces in particular.

"We will have two experienced youth social workers living-in, on-site every night, providing professional 24-hour supervision, to ensure a quiet and therapeutic environment for all" she says. "Young people will be kept busy, engaged and focussed on their care and recovery in a safe, holistic space. During the day, doctors, counsellors, social workers and reception staff will also be on-site. WINZ Youth are keen to provide additional services, as well as The Collaborative, Community Law, Youthline and QTopia, among others".

"Importantly, we had a very constructive, open meeting with site neighbours on Saturday to listen to their feedback and views" says Dr Bagshaw. "We are committed to working with them positively during the resource consent process."

The Youth Hub Trust says it took an exhaustive two year search to find the site -generously purchased by Anglican Care in order to lease back to the Trust- with its location carefully chosen as an affordable, non-commercial option, delivering a residential feel, yet close to local amenities to support youth well-being. Turanga, The Margaret Mahy playground, The Bus Exchange and the future Metro Sports complex are all within walking distance.

Novo Group Director and Senior Planner Jeremy Phillips says great care has been taken to ensure the Hub site - a former bowling club- fits seamlessly into its local surrounds; with acoustic, traffic engineering, urban design and landscaping experts brought in to ensure the Youth Hub blends into and enhances its residential environment.

"The site’s central city location and its relationship with residential neighbours has been carefully considered, with advice from Council staff and the Urban Design Panel informing the design" says Phillips. "The result is a project which is sympathetic to its neighbours and delivers well-designed buildings on an established non-residential site".

Field Studio of Architecture Director Andrew Just says it’s been amazing for the team to work on such a worthwhile project.

"We’re proud of how the design has been shaped with the feedback and desires of young people and the organisations which work so closely with them" he says. "We sought to sensitively add to the context with trees and greenery, including market gardens, a high-quality terraced-house appearance on Gracefield Avenue and a welcome-house and café facing the city and Salisbury Street".

The Trust is particularly excited that inner-city urban vegetable farm Cultivate will also be part of the Hub. Its organic vegetable plots and fruit trees are expected to occupy around one-third of the 4500 square metre site. "We see the Youth Hub site as an opportunity for us to continue our connection and support of young people by teaching useful employment skills in the setting of an urban farm" says Cultivate Co-Founder Bailey Peryman. "Our organic produce will not only supply the Youth Hub and café but will be available for farm gate sale to neighbours and the local community".

There will be on-site parking for approximately 20 vehicles and an arrangement has been made with the nearby Christchurch Casino for access to more.

"We have our fingers crossed we’ll gain resource consent approval from the Council and community" says Dame Sue Bagshaw. "If successful, a massive task beckons - raising the $15-20 million needed to turn this dream for our city’s youth into reality".

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