Red-zoners fuel boom in building

LIZ MCDONALD AND CHARLEY MANN
Last updated 05:00 01/10/2012
Bruce Harvey

HOMES FOR THOUSANDS: Bruce Harvey, of Hughes Developments, on site as earthworks begin at Faringdon.

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Housing developments in areas around Christchurch are booming as red-zoners move out of the earthquake-hit city.

Land in the 1050-section Faringdon subdivision in Rolleston is being fast-tracked after 90 per cent of the first stage sold within weeks.

The $200 million subdivision was launched in late July and could house 4000 people.

Hughes Developments had expected strong demand but was surprised at the number of pre-sales, said marketing director Bruce Harvey.

The company will now bring forward about 50 extra sections from the second and third stages, taking to nearly 150 the number of titles to be ready in February for the first batch of buyers.

The fourth stage is being fast-tracked and will be submitted for council consent this week.

"We didn't really plan to do it this way, but there's a need to get on with it," Harvey said.

He said half the sections were selling to house builders for house-and-land packages and the rest to "mum and dad" buyers.

Most were not red-zoners but were upgrading and selling their existing homes in Christchurch or other parts of Rolleston to people affected by the earthquakes.

There had also been inquiries from people moving to the Christchurch area for work, he said.

"Instead of renting, a few are entertaining the idea of building a new home and then selling it when they go back," he said

Hughes bought the 82-hectare block of former farmland, bordered by East Maddison, Goulds and Dynes roads, from the Foster family last year. Sections range from 400 square metres to 900sqm and cost $147,000 to $179,000.

Other major subdivisions in the town include Millgate and Park Lane Estates, with about 750 sections, while the Holmes and Skellerup blocks in Dunns Crossing Rd are zoned for 150 low-density sections but are not yet being developed.

Sections are also available in the town at a discount to red-zoners through a trust.

Selwyn District is the fastest growing local body area in New Zealand, and its house values have risen by about 14 per cent in the past year.

Rolleston's population is now about 8500.

Other Canterbury subdivisions are experiencing a similar boom.

The first stage of Kaiapoi's Silverstream subdivision, released in July, has almost sold out.

Developer Fred Rahme said there were about 10 sections left.

"We are only just starting the earthworks for stages two and three, but 30 sections have been put on hold," he said.

Rahme said the development, which will total 1180 sections, was experiencing waves of interest.

Buyers were a mixture of Kaiapoi and Christchurch red-zone homeowners and those who wanted to escape the rebuild.

Rahme expected another wave around Christmas as the April deadline for some red-zone homeowners to settle with the Government approached.

To accommodate those coming from the red zone, Rahme negotiated a district plan for the site.

Sections vary in size from 300sqm to 600sqm and there is no minimum build-size covenant.

"It is no coincidence that they are selling," he said.

"It is not a matter of sections available, it is the affordability of those sections.

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"[Those] from the red zone have a ceiling on their spending."

Construction at Pegasus has also skyrocketed in the past year, with roughly one new house going up every day.

Since earthworks began at the North Canterbury town in mid 2006, more than 1020 sections have been sold.

Pegasus sales consultant Karen Eastwood said there would be between 1500 and 1600 sections when the project was completed.

"About 30 new houses are built every month," she said. "It is really trucking along."

A preschool is due to open by the end of the year and a primary and intermediate school for the town was announced this month.

"In the next nine months you will see a huge difference in Pegasus Town," Eastwood said.

Many sections, which range from from 350sqm to 2500sqm, were sold to buyers from the residential red zone, and those who wanted to escape the city.

"Demands has gone up since the earthquakes," she said. "There is no structural damage [in Pegasus]. This is a very important aspect for a lot of people."

Eleven sections remain for sale out of 241 constructed at the Wigram Skies subdivision in western Christchurch since 2009.

- The Press

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