A new residential sub-division, named Highfield, is planned in the north of Christchurch, offering 2400 sections on a 180 hectare site. The site will be bordered by the eastern edge of Redwood to the west, Hills and Hawkins Roads to the east, the Styx river to the north and Queen Elizabeth II Drive to the south, making it a rather large site indeed.
Like most developments around Christchurch these days it would feature a mix of housing developments as well as commercial areas. Sites will be sold as house and land packages rather than as bare sections, which is an interesting feature. The plan is for Highfield to go ahead regardless of whether there is a major relocation from badly affected eastern suburbs or not, although if not it would be developed at a slower pace. The developers are currently attempting to get the land rezoned for residential use and all the necessary resource consents. The land is within the established boundary for housing development, unlike Prestons, and is well situated to Main North Road, the Main North Line, and the planned Northern Motorway (which I believe will run to the east of the development).
This is one of a number of residential developments underway or planned in and around Christchurch. With further developments around Belfast, to the north in Waimakariri, and in Rolleston, Prebbleton and Lincoln as well as at Wigram, there is clearly going to be a need to integrate these developments with good transport planning. Will it be enough to simply rely on the completion of projects such as the Northern and Southern Motorways? We need only to look north for the answer to that, and that answer is clearly no.
There is a pattern starting to emerge here, and that is a concentration of developments along a north-south corridor from Rangiora to Rolleston (with a ‘branch’ out to Lincoln). I’m sure that it’s no coincidence that this is where the railway corridors run (well, mostly) just as it is no coincidence that this is where Christchurch’s Roads of National Significance are. It is crucial that this continues to be the case if rail is to play a significant role in Christchurch’s transport system, and to establish a balance in future transport policy (and avoid the ‘Auckland’ problem). The other day I outlined how the existing rail corridors could be adapted now to provide a basic rail service for these areas. It is kind of a case of ‘what comes first, the chicken or the egg?’ – do you provide the service and use it to develop the corridor? Or do you wait until the corridor is more developed to support rail? Given the current situation, where travel is compromised by earthquake damage and changed travel patterns, petrol prices are on the increase, commercial activity is concentrated around the edge of the CBD rather than in it, and developments are underway and planned in addition to the areas that already exist, I again look favourably at preemption.