Calls to stop housing intensification in Christchurch

The vast majority of residents want Christchurch City Council to halt its plans for housing intensification in the suburbs.

A report, viewed by the Riccarton Bush – Kilmarnock Residents Association, compiled over 700 comments received in response to the city council’s decision to plan residential intensification in Christchurch.

Nearly 75% of people opposed the proposed plan to get rid of city resource permits for those who want to build homes over 12m high.

Reasons for their opposition ranged from reduced sunlight and heat for neighboring homes, lack of harmony between communities, worsening traffic, diminished neighborhood aesthetics, and the environmental effect.

Residents’ association president Tony Simons said the rights to sunlight, privacy and the protection of trees were under threat.

“There are several reasons why intensification in the suburbs is not a good idea,” he said.

In a number of responses, residents suggested that the city council should start with the town center before, if necessary, developing apartment buildings in the suburbs.

“You should step up where it’s most appropriate,” Simons said.

“So right now it looks like you’re starting in the middle.”

The report said the development “was seen as a unique opportunity…as the impact of the Christchurch earthquakes left a large amount of vacant land still available for development in the city centre”.

“Increasing the number of downtown residents…would then increase the vitality of the city, the business opportunities and the security of having more people on the streets,” the report reveals.

Otherwise, Simons noted, the central city would die.

Another problem with the proposed plan was the zoning of qualified materials; areas with historic or character value, or areas where houses should not be built on the land because it is high risk.

Simons noted that a significant portion of the area around Riccarton Bush was likely to be zoned for six floors instead of just three.

“Our argument around Riccarton Bush is that this area really should be designated and given some protection because it’s old Riccarton…the original part of Christchurch,” he said.

Although the council is required by national law to provide more accommodation, it is able to work a little with residents and designate areas to qualify.

Comments were generally in favor of the areas suggested by the board, but the majority suggested they needed to be increased.

The plan proposed by the council stated that more than 50,000 additional homes would need to be built in Christchurch over the next 30 years to ensure everyone had a place to live and comply with national laws.

The municipal council is holding a new meeting on August 11 to formalize the concerns of the inhabitants.

“We’re not against development at all, we’re not against intensification,” Simons said.

“All we’re saying is if you need more houses, build them where they’re needed, not just have some kind of one-size-fits-all policy that colors the whole district.”

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