Friends are considering moving from Brisbane to New Zealand, and are weighing up Wellington and Christchurch as their future home. While it’s easy enough to look at job opportunities, house prices and weather reports from afar, there’s still a need to go to a place and ‘sniff the air’ to really know if it’s a place where you feel you can thrive.
Everyone has their own subjective response to a place, but a recent study by KPMG identifies seven principles cities can follow to be more appealing to people, specifically young wealth creators. KPMG describes these as ‘magnet cities’ and includes Christchurch as one of its success stories.
1. Magnet cities attract young wealth creators
This involves choosing an authentic point of attraction. Cities that successfully target particular groups of wealth creators do so because there is a logical link to the city.
One of the niches Christchurch is developing following the earthquakes is to foster expertise in construction methods, and natural hazards. This is one example of diversification of the city’s economy to become a centre for specific research, technical and professional services.
2. Magnet cities undergo constant physical renewal
KPMG notes that many young professionals favour housing in urban cores, or in neighbourhoods that are linked to the urban core by quick and easy public transport. The design and sustainability features of housing is as important as its location – many prefer to live in mixed use neighbourhoods.
Christchurch’s city centre is to be condensed to 40 hectares, with the aim of attracting new residential use as well as businesses.
3. Magnet cities have a definable city identity
Without a clear city identity it is difficult for future residents to clearly understand what a city stands for and whether they are attracted to it.
4. Magnet cities are connected to other cities
If a city is going to attract a new generation of residents, the city must be easy to get in and out of. In particular, young wealth creators who move into a city are likely to travel back and forth more frequently to other places or cities for work and to visit family and friends.
5. Magnet cities cultivate new ideas
All of the case study cities leveraged their academic institutions to bring change to their cities.
Here are some of the actions being taken by Christchurch:
6. Magnet cities are fundraisers
The city councils have played an active role in providing capital and attracting private investment, research grants and public funds. Often the city’s existing assets have been used to attract further investment to transform the city.
7. Magnet cities have strong leaders
The mayors of the cities studied by KPMG all had to cope with criticism and hostility when introducing a new vision for a city and making the necessary changes. They have been relatively inflexible about changes to the future vision for their city once it was agreed, but extremely flexible about the steps they took and who they involved to get there.
For more detail, please see KPMG's Magnet Cities document. The Christchurch Case Study is on pages 88 – 121.