Fletcher Residential wins $800m Christchurch housing project gallery

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A computer generated image showing Fletcher Living's plan to create three new communities and bring up to 2200 people back to central Christchurch.

The master plan for Christchurch's planned east frame showing, the city blocks to be rebuilt.

Fletcher Living's proposal to rebuild Christchurch's east and north frame includes construction of about 940 townhouses and apartments.

"Our vision is to help return the beating heart to Christchurch City," Fletcher Building’s construction division chief executive Graham Darlow says.

Construction on the first homes will start about 18 months after the signing of a development agreement, which is expected to be in November this year.

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Fletcher Residential will buy land from the Government to develop nearly 1000 townhouses in central Christchurch, Prime Minister John Key has announced.

The building giant was confirmed as the Government's preferred partner in the $800 million project to develop residential, and some commercial properties, in the east and north frames, on the edge of the central city.

The East and North Frame Residential Precinct will provide about 940 new townhouses and apartments to accommodate up to 2200 residents, Key said in a speech to the Christchurch Employers' Chamber of Commerce.

The townhouses and apartments would likely be priced between $400,000 and $900,000, Key said, but that would be for Fletchers to determine.

Construction would take eight or nine years, Key said. The first homes were expected to be finished within 18 months of the Government signing an agreement with Fletcher, which was expected by November.

An earlier artist's impression of the east frame around Christchurch's CBD.

An earlier artist's impression of the east frame around Christchurch's CBD.

There would be space in the precinct for small-scale commercial activities to support the residential community .

The Government would sell seven hectares of land between Manchester and Madras streets, from the river down to Lichfield St, along with a small block in the north frame.

Fletchers would be responsible for designing, building and selling the completed development, subject to minimum requirements agreed with the Government.

When finished, the new precinct was expected to increase the inner city population by about 45 per cent.

Labour housing spokesman Phil Twyford said the Government had failed to make the new apartments affordable for Christchurch and 40 per cent should be put aside for this purpose.

To be affordable, prices needed to drop to $250,000, he said.

"The big failure of the residential rebuild in Canterbury is very few houses are actually affordable for people in Christchurch," he said.

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Earlier this week, data showed the Government was missing its affordable housing targets under the Christchurch Housing Accord.

A report on the accord from December set a target that at least 25 per cent of all building consents must be for low cost housing -  less than $250,000 in consent value - but that had been achieved in only one month since the accord was signed.

In November, 31 per cent of consents issued were for affordable homes, but the rate dropped to between 14 and 21 per cent each month this year.

Fletcher Building construction division chief executive Graham Darlow said the company's vision was to help "return the beating heart" to central Christchurch. 

"We want to protect the precious and familiar while rejuvenating the city with three distinct but linked housing areas that provide diverse living for all."

The new housing areas – Avon, Latimer and Lichfield – would reflect their location and local landmarks, he said. 

Fletcher's chief operating officer of housing, Steve Evans, said the company planned to provide $1 million towards a fund for activities that could draw people back into central Christchurch and put the empty lots to good use before they were developed. 

The public would be consulted on the initiatives, but activities could include weekly markets, and sporting and community events. 

Part of the east frame development included the widening of Manchester St to a boulevard style pedestrian-friendly strip, which had already brought controversy with the planned demolition of Westende House, one of the first post quake commercial developments in the central city.

The Fletcher Building group has been busy in the rebuild since the damaging Canterbury earthquakes of 2010 and 2011.

Fletcher EQR was formed as a management and contractor entity to oversee the Earthquake Commission's home repair programme.

The Government has already signed agreements with Fletcher Living for the construction of 191 new homes at sites in Welles St and Colombo St as part of a housing accord the Christchurch City Council.

Other major Fletcher construction projects in Canterbury include stage one building of the University of Canterbury's regional science and innovation centre and a Grand Central retail and commercial development on the site of the former Grand Chancellor Hotel in Cashel St.

Then there is an Awatea housing development of 89 affordable homes in Wigram, and Fletcher's involvement in a $3 billion rebuild of Christchurch roads, sewers, water and stormwater networks as one of five construction companies in the Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team (Scirt).

The additional homes being built by Fletcher will help the Government's goal of having Christchurch's housing market back in balance by 2018.

 - Stuff

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