Council urged not to be 'dogmatic'

BUSINESS LEADER: Peter Townsend.
BUSINESS LEADER: Peter Townsend.

It would be 'foolhardy' to halt business development near the airport, says a Canterbury business leader.

The Christchurch City Council wants to stem the haemorrhage of business from the central city by clamping down on commercial growth in the suburbs. It could be another year until the changes takes effect.

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.

However, this morning Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce chief executive Peter Townsend told Radio New Zealand that Christchurch needed a balance between central city investment and commercial distribution in the suburbs.

''It worries me a little bit if we get too dogmatic about putting some sort of prescriptive agenda on where you can build and where you can't build in Christchurch.''

Townsend said it would be ''foolhardy'' to stop any development near the airport.

"It doesn't make any sense," he said.

He said those who had made a commercial decision to rebuild where they could, outside of the central city, should not be discouraged.

''We have to be very careful that we don't discourage investment overall by being too prescriptive about what can happen where.''

"We need to get the balance right. We need to ensure that we have a strong central city but we should also recognise that we are going somewhere new."

He said Christchurch needed a mix of central city investment and commercial distribution in the suburbs.

''We need to make sure we have a central city where people want to invest,'' he said.

Townsend said encouraging people back into the city by making it easy to invest would ensure the core would be developed.

"We need a balance between good central city investment and commercial distribution in our suburbs."

The plan, open for public feedback now, 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 was 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 was likely to take most of this year, possibly longer.

The Press