An agreement has been reached between Christchurch’s Youth Hub Trust, local community group the Victoria Neighbourhood Association (VNA) and the Christchurch City Council– allowing development to proceed on New Zealand’s first, purpose-built, ‘one-stop-shop’ for youth health and well-being.
“We are absolutely thrilled with this wonderful news” says Youth Hub Trust Chair Dame Sue Bagshaw.
“This agreement means Resource Consent has now been achieved, enabling us to work together, hand in hand, to ensure that the Youth Hub delivers not only for the city’s young people in need, but also, importantly, the local neighbourhood. We are deeply appreciative of the VNA’s approach to mediation and we are committed to working with them to ensure an open, constructive and harmonious relationship”.
VNA spokesperson Marjorie Manthei, representing 125 of its members, agrees that the mediation outcome has provided a pathway to an effective partnership. “Of course we’re disappointed that this large piece of residential land won’t be used only for housing” she says. “However, mediation allowed us all to take another look at the plans and find positive, workable compromises”.
The three parties participating in the Enviromnent Court mediation process reached an agreement allowing the Youth Hub to meet its core purpose while addressing most of the concerns raised by the VNA. The agreement establishes a Community Liaison group to oversee both long-term and day-to-day operational matters, including operating hours, traffic management and the number of social service agencies operating at the facility, once built. The agreement also reduced the number of large events to be held on-site.
The VNA says its objection to the Youth Hub application focussed on the impact of the facility’s non-residential activities on a small residential neighbourhood, not to young people living on-site. “The purpose of the conditions we all agreed to is to ensure both groups can now operate as good neighbours” says Manthei. “We have mitigated as many of the potential effects on residential amenity as we could”.
“We have had to make some adjustments to our original plans to facilitate this agreement and have done so willingly and in good faith” says Dame Bagshaw. “It is extremely important to us that the Youth Hub assimilates seamlessly into this wonderful, inclusive, city neighbourhood. We see the Hub and its young clients, onsite and support staff as contributing to the positivity and kaitiakitanga of this neighbourhood, adding a young people’s voice and a sense of empathy, positivity and co-operation. We can now proceed with a renewed sense of purpose, with young people and their needs front and centre”.
Once built, the Youth Hub – Te Hurihanga Ō Rangatahi – will be a communal place of growth, support and well-being for 10-25 year olds, providing support services including access to catch-up education, healthcare, mental health counselling, vocational training, recreation and employment. Uniquely, the development will provide onsite, purpose-built accommodation for up to 40 young people aged 16-24 years, in need. Most will stay from 3-18 months at a time, providing they are involved in formal education or actively looking for work.
“We hope they will transition from the planned shared hostel rooms into our 3-bedroom townhouses, where they’ll be given mental and social support from qualified, live-in residential staff. They’ll learn cooking, cleaning and social living skills to help them progress to a future independant flatting environment” says Dame Sue.
The centre has been carefully designed to fit into its local surroundings with involvement from acoustic, traffic engineering, urban design and landscaping experts. It will provide space for about 12 different youth organisations including 298 Health Centre, YouthLine, Qtopia and the Christchurch City Mission, providing a one-stop-shop for essential services. The acre of land on Salisbury Street was specifically purchased for the project by Anglican Care and will be leased back to the Youth Hub Trust to build and run the facility.