Riccarton - where the bricks no longer fly

17:00, Aug 10 2014
Colin Yin
FEELING BETTER: Dairy owner Colin Yin has fewer problems with vandals and robbers.

Riccarton dairy owner Colin Yin measures the change in his neighbourhood by the number of times bricks have been thrown through his shop window.

The bricks stopped coming over a year ago.

In 2012, Yin's windows were broken at least six times by vandals.

Usually they targeted the front door, but once his bedroom window was shattered from a brick lobbed over the fence.

Though his wife wants to move them and their 2-year-old child elsewhere, Yin said the area was starting to look up.

Between 2006 and 2013, the Riccarton area unit, bordered by Matipo St, Riccarton Rd, Deans Ave and Blenheim Rd, has become notably less deprived, according to new research.

The area has experienced a rise in those employed full-time, from 40 per cent in 2006, to 51 per cent in 2013.

The number of people earning at the lowest end of the salary scale has halved, while those earning more than $100,000 has leapt to almost one-fifth of the population.

Yin, who has lived and worked in the area for five years, did not know much of the area beyond Division St, but said he had begun to feel safer.

"Over the last year I've been feeling better," Yin said.

Aside from the numerous break-ins in 2012, Yin said his dairy was also held up at knife-point at around the same time.

The endless tagging and graffiti across the walls of his shop had also been an issue.

It is a quiet area now, Yin said, aside from boy racers.

Riccarton-Wigram Community Board chairman Mike Mora said more younger people were being drawn to the area.

"There are a lot more young people and couples - a hell of a lot more than we actually thought. It was quite a surprise," he said.

Since the quakes it had also become a "more established area" with decent nightlife and increasing land value.

"Compared to what you'd pay for a home in Westmorland or Halswell, to buy in Riccarton for an average bungalow is much, much cheaper."

However, the two residents' associations who represent the area are at odds on its newfound affluence.

Deans Ave Precinct Society deputy chair Alec Ford had seen radical changes in the area over the 35 years he had lived there.

He said "bit by bit" new developments in the area had become "nicer and more upmarket".

"There's been a steady pace of building. These 80, 90 or 100 year old villas - even if they were reasonably well looked after, they were bowled down because the land value was great, with the L3 zoning and the closeness to the city. It takes more money to live here now."

Ford said families wanting their teenage girls in the zone for Christchurch Girls' High School were known to move into the area and then "move on" soon after.

"One woman was renting down the road for the address, and no-one was actually living there - the house was empty."

Central Riccarton Residents' Association chairman Martin Taylor believed the area was moving in the opposite direction.

"It actually appears to have got more deprived."

Taylor said new developments were changing his neighbourhood, but not necessarily for the better.

"A house with two or three bedrooms, is now crammed to the max with ugly buildings with six to eight bedrooms that they can squeeze on to the property with scant regard to parking," Taylor said.

"I'm trying to remain as optimistic as possible, but it is frustrating to watch the disintegration of an area I held dear having grown up as a child here."

Click here for an interactive graphic detailing more about how we live in Christchurch.


The Press