Affordable homes fast-tracked

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 05:00 14/02/2014

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Medium-density housing developments that set new standards for building efficient and affordable homes will be fast-tracked under plans to boost the housing supply in Christchurch.

As part of the Land Use Recovery Plan (Lurp), the Christchurch City Council must enable at least six "exemplar" medium-density housing projects between now and September.

Two of the projects will be driven by Housing New Zealand at Bryndwr and Shirley, two will be private sector-led schemes at Riccarton Racecourse and Halswell, and two will be led by the council - one at Spreydon and one at a location yet to be confirmed.

The projects are intended to provide models for a new standard of housing in Christchurch.

"These developments can help relieve housing market pressures in the short-term recovery period as well as setting standards for building more efficient, affordable, innovative, liveable and vibrant homes and communities," says a council report on the process for evaluating the exemplar projects.

To qualify as an exemplar project, developments will need to:

Exceed a minimum housing density of 30 residential units per hectare on brownfield sites and 25 per hectare on greenfield sites. Provide at least one-third of new homes at, or below, affordable prices. Meet at least Homestar 6 building standards, meaning they are well built and energy efficient. Offer high quality, safe and accessible residential environments that are appropriate to their locality. Be innovative and have clear, unique selling points which mark them out as an example from which others in the home building industry can learn.

Council strategy and planning general manager Michael Theelen yesterday assured councillors that even if a proposed development fell short on one criteria but performed well on another, it could still qualify as an exemplar project.

Concept schemes for Housing New Zealand's exemplar projects are due to be presented to the council by the end of this month, while concept schemes for the council's exemplar projects, which will include a component of social housing, are due to be done by early June.

The process for the potential two private sector-led exemplar projects is more complicated because of their scale - one could have 800 to 1000 homes and the other 300 homes - and the council has a September target to approve their concept schemes.

Mayor Lianne Dalziel said the exemplar projects provided a fantastic opportunity for new types of housing developments within Christchurch.

"When people see what is possible they will immediately spot the difference between these sorts of developments and the subdivisions that we have seen developed over recent years that have not taken into account what people require," Dalziel said.

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The Mayor said while the timeline for getting the exemplar projects off the ground was tight, she believed it was achievable.

- The Press

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