Design rules could 'hinder' rebuild

LIZ MCDONALD
Last updated 13:07 10/07/2013
Christchurch shop
CARYS MONTEATH/Fairfax NZ

NEW LOOK: The proposed new rules for building Christchurch suburban shops have been called a one-size-fits-all approach.

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Suggested design rules for Christchurch suburban shopping centres have drawn criticism from the Property Council.

The rules have been drawn up by the Christchurch City Council as a proposed change to its City Plan, aiming to improve the look and feel of shopping complexes.

The Property Council, a national body of commercial property owners and managers, said in a submission on the proposed rules that they were too prescriptive.

South Island president Glenn Taylor said the plan change, in its current form, would hinder the rebuild efforts.

While the Property Council was a "firm supporter of urban design", Taylor panned the "complicated detail" of the suggested rules.

He said the changes would create a "one-size-fits-all" approach, which would discourage investment and stifle design creativity.

"The [city] council should not impose restrictions on private property rights such as these lightly," the submission said.

For example, the rules requiring buildings facing a road or public space to be between 60 and 90 per cent windows would not suit many businesses.

"Such blanket provisioning ignores that such a percentage of glazing may be inappropriate for the retailer, who may need more security, such as a jeweller or a bank; whose security requirements must take a higher priority than urban design,'' the submission said.

"Furthermore, it ignores the needs of department stores or larger stores who may need to place stock on shelving attached to solid walls around the perimeter of building."

The Property Council said that, because glazing was so expensive, the rule would boost the cost of new shops.

"We are strongly opposed to any provisions in the plan change that call for an increase in development costs without sufficient justification."

The submission criticised the requirement for car parking to be hidden from view, saying visible parking was a principle marketing attraction for retailers.

"This is completely impractical for many retail activities, which rely on visible parking to attract sufficient customers in order to remain viable,'' it said.

"Specific retail activities, particularly fast-turnover retail [such as supermarkets] and long-stay, multi-trip retail [such as shopping malls] need to be able to demonstrate to customers, by way of visible parking, that those activities are convenient and easily accessible."

The city council says the purpose of the plan change is to "stimulate good design in the rebuild of neighbourhood and district shopping centres" and to "help ensure appealing developments that integrate with public spaces and enhance the immediate surroundings are accessible and safe".

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