Council – “Plenty of land for rebuild”

Posted on February 28, 2012 by

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In recent months there has been a scream from property developers that urban limits are leading to a land shortage and a lack of housing in the Greater Christchurch area. There have also been claims that this leads to housing price increases. Yet, I have failed to really grasp how this point of view has come about. There is still plenty of land within urban limits to develop, nevermind moves towards greater intensification within existing urban areas (something everyone seems to have ignored in this debate).

Those on the side that says that urban sprawl is actually our saviour really need to get a grip. Regardless of “restrictive” strategies such as the UDS and draft City Plan, the fact of the matter is that low density development and urban sprawl are still well and truly with us.

This is the indicative UDS settlement pattern. You can see the growth areas around Belfast and in the south-west quite (in red) clearly. I have added in the approximate areas of Prestons and Highfield (purple), which overall makes for quite a massive area. Remember that these areas are in addition to existing urban zoned areas, which are coloured the same as existing urban areas in this map.

At the end of the day the Greater Christchurch UDS still provides for a lot of greenfields development. As seen in the map above, huge tracts of land have already been earmarked in the south-west and around Belfast, two areas identified in the UDS as best able to accommodate future urban growth and development, where 3173 new sections will be available by the end of 2013. An additional 220 sections will be coming on stream from urban renewal developments within the city and 300 sections will be available for infill housing. There are also developments kicking off in the Waimakariri and Selwyn Districts, with 2100 and 1300 sections respectively within the next two years (900 of these sections alone will be in Kaiapoi).

In the post-earthquake environment it looks like there has been ample room and slack already given that will allow developments like Prestons to go ahead, despite the fact that these developments might require new key infrastructure  and strategies (for example, transport) due to being away from development corridors. Astonishingly, 20,000 new homes could be accommodated for in land rezoned during the last 18 months.

In fact, despite the very vocal voices who insist the Councils are trying to lump us with an “unsuitable”, “unaffordable”, and “pie in the sky” , “Copenhagen of the south”, it actually seems that a lot of the growth in Greater Christchurch will be accommodated for with greenfields development. You could be forgiven for thinking otherwise. The main difference is it will be planned and contained, so as to make the best use of infrastructure and to make it easy to implement strategies (like planning an effective public transport network). It would also appear there will be more balance in growth, with some greater emphasis on infill housing and higher density developments in existing communities (CBD, key nodes etc), but as can be seen it appears a lot of growth is still going to come by way of greenfields development.

By 2041 it is projected Christchurch will have accommodated growth for more than 53,000 new households in greenfields and existing communities, Selwyn a further 12,000 and Waimakariri close to 10,000, a total of around 75,000 new homes – the CCC says that it is unlikely there would need to be more greenfield land made available than that already identified for development. Food for thought.

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