Court reduces size of proposed retail development

SAM SACHDEVA
Last updated 05:00 26/05/2012

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A proposed northern Christchurch shopping centre, which would have been one of the city's largest, has been cut in size to stop it affecting the central city's recovery.

Auckland-based Calco Developments had applied to build a 45,000-square-metre complex, the Styx Centre, on a nine-hectare rezoned Belfast site beside the Northwood Supa Centa.

The proposal was based on 35,000sqm of retail space and 10,000sqm of commercial space.

Last week, the Environment Court ruled that the development could have no more than 20,000sqm of retail space, although the total development could remain at 45,000sqm.

In its ruling, the court said population growth in northern Christchurch was likely to be less than forecast before the earthquakes, reducing the size of the centre.

Allowing the development at its original size was likely to slow the recovery of the quake-hit central city as it would draw businesses away.

"Any possible delay caused to the recovery of the central business district by development of a new centre too large in the context of the area it is designed primarily to serve would be an effect of high potential impact," the court said. "In the present circumstances, we consider an approach that ensures such an effect is avoided is warranted."

The ruling placed restrictions on the development of office spaces to reduce the likelihood of tenants relocating to the Styx Centre while the central city was not fully functioning.

Restrictions would be eased from 2015 as the central city's recovery "begins to gather momentum".

The court said the Styx Centre would become the closest retail destination for Waimakariri and southern Hurunui residents outside their districts, improving travel efficiency and accessibility.

Hearings on the development were held from October 2010 to February 2011. Further evidence was heard in October and November last year, after the February 2011 earthquake.

During the hearings, the Waimakariri District Council expressed concerns that the centre would "jeopardise the viability" of the Rangiora and Kaiapoi town centres.

Yesterday, Waimakariri District Council district plan manager Victoria Caseley said the changes announced by the court would help to address the council's concerns. The ruling acknowledged the potential "cross-boundary effects" on shopping areas in Rangiora and Kaiapoi, she said.

Christchurch City Council strategy and planning general manager Mike Theelen said the council was happy with the ruling. "The decision by the Environment Court is a good one and we are happy that this decision addresses council's concerns," he said.

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Calco Developments spokesman Ian Calderwood said he had not yet read the decision and would be unable to comment until next week.

- The Press

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