Cut levies to boost residential builds - Gough

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 05:00 19/06/2013

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A Christchurch City councillor is pushing for developers to be given a financial incentive to build apartments in the central city.

Cr Jamie Gough hopes to persuade his council colleagues at next week's budget meeting to drop the fees that normally apply to new residential developments within the four avenues for the next three years.

The council has been able to collect the levies from developers since 2002 if the development required the council to provide new or upgraded infrastructure, such as roads, parks, or community facilities.

"We need to be incentivising people to live in the central city . . . but unfortunately developers aren't building residential there because it's financially too high a hurdle to get over," Gough said.

"It is cheaper for them to rebuild the office space that they had and not put apartments or inner-city living into their projects."

Developers would only come on board if residential developments were made more financially viable, he said.

"The current system doesn't do a heck of a lot more than promote people to build back what they had and in my view that's not where we want to be.

"Everyone wants a central city that works but if we're truly going to achieve that we need to have it populated by people. We're seeing patches of progress . . . but office buildings, cafes and bars and a handful of anchor projects just won't get us there without the human element. The missing link is an affordable residential component."

Developer Richard Driver, who recently moved to buy a prominent space in Cathedral Square and the former Environment Canterbury offices in Kilmore St, said he would rethink his plans to develop them as office space if Gough succeeded in getting the development contributions on residential developments dropped.

"In my view what's going to get the city pumping quite well is to have a 24-hour city rather than a 9-to-5 city.

"Development contributions are the ones that are killing residential developments in the city."

However, David Wallace, a realtor for commercial and apartment developer Devonia Holdings, said development contributions were not the problem.

High land prices, the "escalating" cost of construction and the uncertainty about being able to sell the finished properties were the critical factors preventing residential development in Christchurch's central city.

"There's a lot of risk for the developer.

"You need to know people are actually going to pay the prices that you need to achieve to make it profitable," Wallace said.

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- The Press

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