Shirley Centre Q & A

Below are some of the commonly asked questions I’ve been asked over the last year:

Q. Is the 10 Shirley Road site the best place for a community centre?
Yes. The new Shirley centre needs to be on Shirley Road. Our Shirley Library needs to be on Shirley Road.
This is part of our identity as a community. This location has had an “educational” facility here since 1915.
This location is opposite our biggest primary school, Shirley Primary. Kidsfirst Kindergartens MacFarlane Park is to the north, with Kidsfirst Kindergartens Richmond to the south, and Kidsfirst Kindergartens Shirley to the east.
Shirley Playcentre is already part of this location, and there are other preschools/centres on Shirley Road.
Plenty of Off Street Parking: Cnr Hills Road & Shirley Road Shopping Centre, pathway from car park to Slater Street, following Dudley Creek; Shirley Road; Slater Street; Chancellor Street, bridge over Dudley Creek by the Shirley Playcentre; Julius Terrace; and Stapletons Road.
Bus stops are located outside 10 Shirley Road, and across the road, by Shirley Primary School.
– Orange Line: Halswell>Addington>Christchurch Hospital>Bus Interchange>The Palms>Burwood Hospital>Queenspark
– The Orbiter: Eastgate Shopping Centre>St Martins>Barrington Mall>Westfield Riccarton>University of Canterbury>Northlands>The Palms>Eastgate Shopping Centre
– 100 Wigram/The Palms via Riccarton: Halswell>Wigram>Church Corner>University of Canterbury>Westfield Riccarton>Merivale Mall>The Palms (
More Housing NZ developments are being built in Shirley/Richmond. Private/Commercial property developers are building more “higher density” housing in Shirley/Richmond.

Q. Why do we need another community centre?
We don’t. The old school ‘community centre’ model is out dated. The ‘community centre’ model is a ‘one size fits all’ centre. They cater for a specific group of people with targeted activities. They can appear ‘closed’, as they only look ‘open’ when activities are on. They can be intimidating for newcomers. Open hours, activity choices, faith based, personality differences can lead to residents feeling judged/excluded.
Libraries with learning spaces are the new ‘community centre’ model (
“Public places on neutral ground where people can gather and interact. In contrast to first places (home) and second places (work), third places allow people to put aside their concerns and simply enjoy the company and conversation around them.” “third places are the heart of a community’s social vitality. Providing the foundation for a functioning democracy, these spaces promote social equity by leveling the status of guests, providing a setting for grassroots politics, creating habits of public association, and offering psychological support to individuals and communities.”
Ray Oldenburg (
As part of my feedback on the Draft OARC Regeneration Plan, I created this “Community Needs” post ( which includes:
Why are Identity, Well-being, & Learning important?; How can we “Get Creative Christchurch”?; Shirley Research by Joanna Gould; Richmond Research by Joanna Gould; Dallington Research by Joanna Gould; Social Isolation And Older People In Canterbury; An Inventory of Community-led and Non-governmental Organisations and Initiatives in Post-earthquake Canterbury (to September 2013); Community Needs Profile For East Christchurch for Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor Regeneration Plan.
My “Community Needs: Community Centres” post ( outlines my research shows the need for two community centres:
– OARC Regeneration Plan Idea for Shirley/Richmond by Joanna Gould: “Shirley/Richmond, new Community Centre at 10 Shirley Road opposite Shirley Primary School, includes Shirley Library, Learning Spaces, Service Centre, sell Shirley Library building at The Palms.”
– OARC Regeneration Plan Idea for Dallington/Burwood/Avondale by Joanna Gould: “Dallington/Burwood/Avondale, new Community Centre at 255 New Brighton Road close to All Saints Church, includes Coastal-Burwood Governance Unit more central to their residents, small Meeting/Learning spaces with kitchen, Service Centre, Volunteer Library similar to Redcliffs Village Library, sell Shirley Library building at The Palms.”
– CCC Shirley The Palms Commercial Centre (2017):

Q. Why are you suggesting we move the Shirley Library to the 10 Shirley Road site?
The Shirley Library was built in 1996 (23 years old). In 2008 it was reported “Future need for more service capability. Space required to develop service for learning services to support need in the community.”
The Land Use Recovery Plan in December 2013 “[Shirley suburb] identified as a key activity centres for business and community which aligns with the planning for new and retention of libraries in these areas.”
Does the current Shirley Library and Service Centre align with the Libraries 2025 Facilities Plan (May 2015)?
– Libraries will foster local communities’ wellbeing by providing accessible meeting places and focal points for the community, learning and leisure activities.
– Library facilities will embrace the cultural diversity of local communities.
– The Plan will reflect Council’s commitment to the Treaty of Waitangi by reflecting an understanding of and respect for the needs of the Tangata Whenua.
– Architecturally designed buildings will generate community pride and reflect the diversity of local cultures and lifestyles.
– Urban Design Protocol: The value of public buildings such as libraries is emphasised in the Urban Design Protocol (which Christchurch City Council is a signatory to): they protect the cultural identity and heritage of our towns and cities; provide creativity; and add social, environmental and cultural benefits by creating well connected, inclusive and accessible places.
– Library Facilities: Important, central meeting place and focal point in a community; Open, spacious, welcoming environment; warm place to be in winter; vital social contact for many (especially older persons); place to meet (café) and relax with children and friends or family; Outstanding location (e.g. overlooking ocean, park setting), source of community pride, for the building and the resources available; Free learning environment; provider of ‘second chance’ opportunities for adults wanting to learn; Provider of general services, e.g. photocopiers, internet, community/local information.
– Location Preferences: Near local shops/supermarket/mall/bank/medical centre/schools/playground/toy library; malls and aquatic facilities not seen as highly desirable areas for co-location or as adjacent locations; co-location with a Council service centre favoured; On bus route/near transport hubs; handy walking distance from home, easily accessed, free, plentiful car parking adjacent to library; Attractive street visibility. (

Q. Why do we need Learning Spaces in a library?
“Shirley and Parklands Libraries: these do not have dedicated ‘learning’ spaces. They have spaces that are able to be used for programming and events as part of the library footprint.
– Shirley hosted 416 programmes with 9,381 participants, Parklands hosted 260 programmes with 3,800 participants.
– Aranui Library has a dedicated whānau room which is a multi-purpose space. The Library hosted 433 programmes with 5,213 participants. The Programme statistics for Sumner saw 106 sessions hosted with 2,322 participants.”
(LGOIMA request, Library Plans/Learning Space Participants, November 2018)
If “Shirley hosted 416 programmes with 9,381 participants” without dedicated ‘learning’ spaces, what opportunities could they offer the communities if they did?
I was first inspired by the open learning spaces ( in the new building at Shirley Primary School. Then after attending the Ministry of Awesome: ‘Coffee & Jam’ sessions at the EPIC Innovation Campus, I thought wouldn’t it be a great opportunity to invite guest speakers from all the different Government agencies, organisations, community groups, support services, community workers to come & ‘introduce’ themselves to the community, in a non-threatening way that was accessible for all, through the learning spaces at the library, so they become more than a name, approachable familiar faces to the residents of our communities.

Q. Why not just leave the 10 Shirley Road site as a park?
The World Health Organisation’s definition of health says that it is ‘more than the absence of disease’; it is ‘a state of complete physical, social and mental wellbeing’.”
In focusing so much on our physical health, we have been neglecting our ‘social and mental wellbeing’.
We already have enough parks in this area with: St Albans Park to the west, Westminster Park to the north-west, MacFarlane Park to the north, Burwood Park to the east, Richmond Park to the south-east, Petrie Park to the south.

Q. What is one word to describe your idea, that represents your “why” this centre is needed?
Inclusive. “The definition of inclusive is something that does not leave any part or group out.”
Libraries are inclusive by design. Every age/stage/race/religion/beliefs/values is catered for, within the words of the books, and the information you find online.
Anyone can go into a library, find a book that they can identity with: who they are, their beliefs, their values & their circumstances in life.
Libraries are not just for books, they empower people. You don’t have to wait on a waiting list for help. You can help yourself by asking a librarian for guidance to find the book/information you need. Librarians show us that it’s ok to ask for help, it’s ok to ask questions there. They are a safe place to teach children social skills. And for some they are a second opportunity for education.