Plan aims at Christchurch's 'beating heart'

LIZ MCDONALD
Last updated 05:00 24/03/2014

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The Christchurch City Council wants to stem the haemorrhage of business from the central city by clamping down on commercial growth in the suburbs.

However, it could be another year until the changes takes effect. Central city landowners have welcomed the plan, but say it comes far too late.

The new rules are in the city's draft district plan review, and would ban new office, retail and hospitality buildings in light industrial (business 4) zones.

This would halt construction in most parts of Addington, Lincoln Rd, Blenheim Rd and much of Moorhouse Ave, where new buildings have sprung up since the earthquakes. It would also affect many suburbs and land near the airport.

The plan, open for public feedback now, comes as developers complain of insufficient tenants to start rebuilding in the central city.

The review document says the clampdown aims to stop "non-industrial activities that could adversely affect the strategic role of the central city, key activity centres, and neighbourhood centres as focal points for commercial, community, residential, and other activities."

Existing businesses and buildings could stay.

Banned would be anything new not connected to industry, with exceptions for the Hazeldean, Canterbury Technology Park and Show Place office parks.

Once the relevant chapter of the draft plan review is finalised, it would need to be approved by council, then the Ministers of Environment and Earthquake Recovery, before being notified for public submission, and going before hearing commissioners.

That process is likely to take most of this year, possibly longer.

Dean Marshall, a developer and spokesman for the City Owners Rebuild Entity (Core) group, said the council was "trying to stop what has already happened".

"If they wanted to contain things, they should've done it ages ago.

"The property owners weren't listened to, and now we've got to live with the consequences".

David Wallace, spokesman for landowner Devonia Holdings said constraints and controls were needed to get a "proper CBD", but other incentives such as free parking were needed.

Wallace said the council should have foreseen the problem, which was "pretty obvious 12 months ago" when tenants were moving into suburban space.

Businesses were now settling down in the suburbs on five and 10-year leases, he said.

Developer Chris Wilson has projects in the suburbs and had not been aware of the move until being contacted by The Press.

He said the council should not force businesses to go where they did not want to be.

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"Since the earthquakes, a lot of our clients have said they don't want to go back to the city. They've enjoyed working in the suburbs, it's cheaper, and there's easy parking."

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said the council was interested in hearing from people about the draft plan.

"The idea is that we encourage commercial development in commercial areas.

"We do need a vibrant beating heart to our city," she said.

- The Press

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