Go-ahead for high-density housing


The city council has agreed on a new plan to squeeze more homes into Christchurch's existing urban boundaries in a bid to ease the post-quake housing pinch.

After months of behind-the-scenes negotiation with the government, councillors this morning signed off on several revisions to the housing rules in the draft Land Use Recovery Plan (Lurp).

The revisions mean that high density developments - between 30 and 65 houses per hectare - are likely to be allowed on large blocks of land in some residential areas of the city under a new design-led Comprehensive Development Mechanism (CDM).

This density compares with about 22 houses per hectare currently in Christchurch's low-density outer suburbs, with at least 30 homes per hectare expected in the city's most densely populated suburbs.

The new CDM will allow a similar density of housing as within the Living 3 zone and the scope to go to three-storeys.

The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) was pushing for the CDM to be introduced across the whole city but the council has only given approval for its introduction in certain parts of what are known as Living 2 and 3 zones.

This denser housing will be permitted in parts of Barrington, Sydenham, Beckenham and Linwood.

However, in a compromise move it has voted to introduce a new Community Housing Development Mechanism (CHDM) to facilitate the urgent redevelopment of social housing in the city.

The CHDM will apply across the whole city, in areas where there are already clusters of social housing, and allow Housing New Zealand, the council and other community housing providers to move forward with planned renewal programmes or other site specific schemes.

They will be able to build to the same high density as allowed under the CDM provided they meet strict urban design standards.

Both the CDM and the CHDM will be operative for the next five years, at which point they will be reviewed.

Mayor Lianne Dalziel said the plan was a compromise but one that was in the best interests of the city.

The Lurp still has to be signed off by Cabinet but Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee hopes to have it gazetted by the end of this year. Once gazetted, the council will need to immediately amend its District Plan to reflect the new rules.

Cr Andrew Turner said he would have preferred to have seen more community consultation on the proposed intensification measures but it was not a business as usual situation and there was clearly a need for urgent action to address the housing shortage.

''Unchecked urban sprawl is not the way to go,'' he said.

Cr Yani Johanson said he was reluctantly supporting the proposed changes because it was a better option for Christchurch than the one which the government had been pushing for, which would have seen high density developments allowed throughout most of the city.

''It will allow us to address some of the chronic housing issues facing the city and to get better urban design,'' Johanson said.

Under other revisions to the Lurp approved by the council yesterday it will become easier to split big houses into flats and within the Living 1 and 2 zones people will be able to build two houses on vacant house sites as a permitted activity for the next five years.


Under the District Plan Christchurch City is divided into specific zones that only allow certain activities on land uses.

In Living Zone 1 only low density development is permitted and there is a minimum section size of 450 square metres, or up to 22 houses per hectare. These zones are generally located in the outer suburban areas.

In Living Zone 2 medium density development is permitted and the minimum section size is 330 square metres or up to 30 houses per hectare. These zones are generally located closer to the central city or suburban centres.

In Living Zone 3 medium density town-house type developments are permitted and the minimum section size is 300 square metres or at least 30 houses per hectare.

The Press