Council proposes fewer car parks

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 05:00 04/03/2014

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New homes and businesses in Christchurch could be required to provide fewer car parks under a planning rule change being considered by the city council.

In an attempt to make it easier for landowners to redevelop post-earthquake the council is tossing up whether it should reduce the parking requirements in the District Plan for residential units.

Currently, every residential unit is supposed to provide two car parks but Christchurch City Council staff think by reducing that requirement they could cut development costs.

They have also suggested reducing the number of car parks that new commercial and retail developments need to provide as a way of encouraging people to walk or cycle.

"It will be one of the more controversial issues because in some areas it will . . . mean there are more cars on the street and that creates some tensions with communities," Christchurch City Council chief planning officer Mike Theelen said yesterday.

Developers would be able to dedicate more of their sites to living space rather than to "housing cars", which would be particularly beneficial in medium-to-high density residential areas.

The parking changes, which could be partly countered by an increase in cycle parking spaces, is one of a host ideas the council is seeking informal feedback on as part of its far-reaching review of the District Plan.

The review is designed to ensure the planning rules that apply in Christchurch support the city's recovery and provide an integrated framework for development.

"These are evolutionary changes that reflect both how the city is developing and also respond to the circumstances created by the earthquakes," Theelen said.

"It is about making progressive changes rather than making a radical reinterpretation of the world."

Those changes could include increased intensification of housing around the central city and some suburban commercial centres.

"People tend to view high density as mass tower blocks with acres of washing hanging out of them. For us high density in a Christchurch environment is perhaps smaller sections, perhaps more use of two or three-storey townhouses, perhaps common wall boundaries," Theelen said.

In commercial areas the council is considering whether it can encourage good design by requiring most new developments to go through an urban design assessment to ensure they fit in with the surroundings.

It is also looking at new planning rules that would make it harder for retail and office activities to set up in industrial areas.

Since the quakes the amount of retail and office activity located outside of the city's traditional commercial centres has increased as businesses have been forced to relocate, but the council is keen to coax them back by reducing the opportunity for them to locate within industrial areas.

The council is holding a series of community briefing sessions to outline its District Plan change ideas. Details of where and when the sessions are being held can be found at www.ccc.govt.nz

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- Canterbury

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