Christchurch city takes shape: goodbye red zone

LOIS CAIRNS AND CHARLES ANDERSON
Last updated 07:00 29/11/2013
Demo land
IAIN MCGREGOR/Fairfax NZ

DEMOLITIONS PRIORITISED: A house in the red zone is demolished.

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The first areas in the residential red zone to be fully cleared of homes have been announced to speed up demolitions that have fallen behind deadline.

Areas of New Brighton, Avonside Drive, Oxford Tce and Kaiapoi are the first to be completely demolished as part of a joint initiative between the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, the Earthquake Commission and insurers.

The decision sees flat land red-zone houses sectioned into 15 areas throughout greater Christchurch ranging from Southshore to Kaiapoi.

Cera chief executive Roger Sutton said the approach to demolitions so far had been "scatter gun" which was inefficient and costly. It had always been the plan to work in geographical areas but this was not possible earlier due to the number of people living in the red zone, he said. All areas targeted are now free of residents.

"It's a major milestone in terms of how we do this work across the red zone."

Cera had fallen behind its deadline and would continue falling behind by several months if this strategy was not implemented, Sutton said. He said all flat land residential areas would be cleared by the end of next year.

About 3500 flat land properties had already been cleared with another 3500 to go.

The remaining 1000 on the Port Hills would take until the end of 2015 at the earliest.

Insurance council chief executive Tim Grafton said he hoped the homes would no longer be a "blight on the landscape" but create areas that were a "legacy for the community".

"The pace of progress will continue as we work with Cera to ensure designated areas are cleared in a systematic way that will benefit everyone."

The flat land locations were put into four groups denoting the order of when they will be demolished.

One home in Evans Ave in New Brighton - in the first priority area - was demolished to start the programme. Two more homes in the area would be demolished in the coming weeks and the area would be grassed by Christmas.

DECONSTRUCTION ZONES

Red-zoned houses will be demolished in batches with certain areas prioritised.

First area

New Brighton; Parts of Dallington on south side of Avon River; Parts of Dallington on north side of Avon River; Parts of Phillipstown near the Avon River; Avon Loop; Kaiapoi on south side of Kaiapoi River; Kaiapoi along Featherstone Avenue.

Second area

Northern Bexley; New Brighton on north side of Avon River; Wainoni on south side of Avon River; Areas on either side of Anzac Drive reserve; Dallington on north side of Avon River.

Third area

Avondale along the Avon River; Kaiapoi on north side of Kaiapoi River; Brooklands.

Fourth area

Southern Bexley; Burwood near Horseshoe Lake; Avonside along the Avon River; Richmond along the Avon River; Southshore.

CITY TAKES SHAPE: GOODBYE RED ZONE

Intensive housing developments will be allowed in suburbs near central Christchurch under new rules aimed at squeezing more homes into the city.

The new housing will be allowed in parts of Riccarton, Barrington, Papanui, Merivale, Sydenham, Linwood, Waltham and Richmond.

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The move comes as plans are announced to accelerate demolition in the residential red zone and clear suburbs on the flat land by the end of next year.

A joint initiative between the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, insurers and EQC will prioritise areas for clearance. Parts of New Brighton, Avonside Drive, Oxford Tce and Kaiapoi will be the first to be completely demolished.

The new housing rules were approved yesterday by the Christchurch City Council and will form part of the Land Use Recovery Plan (Lurp) the Government hopes to have gazetted by the end of this year.

Under the new housing rules, developers with between 1500 square metres and one hectare of land will be able to build between 30 and 65 dwellings on their property in some residential areas of the city through the new Comprehensive Development Mechanism (CDM), which is part of the Lurp.

In the outer suburban areas of Christchurch (those classed as Living 1), up to 22 houses per hectare are allowed. In Living 2 areas (typically nearer the central city and suburban centres), up to 30 houses per hectare can theoretically be built, while in the Living 3 zone developments of at least 30 houses per hectare are expected.

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 the Living 2 and 3 zones.

However, in a compromise , it has voted to implement a new Community Housing Development Mechanism (CHDM) as part of the Lurp to help the urgent redevelopment of social housing.

The CHDM will apply across the whole city, in areas where there are already clusters of social housing, and allows Housing New Zealand, the council and other community housing providers to progress their renewal programmes. They will be able to build to the same high density as allowed under the CDM, provided they meet urban design standards.

Under other council-approved revisions to the Lurp, 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. Granny flats will also be able to be used as separate homes.

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said the new rules were a compromise between the Government and the council but were in the best interests of the city.

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee described yesterday's decision by the council as a positive step forward.

He said the changes approved by the council were the "minimum required" to address the housing pinch. The next step was for the council to conduct a full review of all its residential living zones, something he expected it to do over the next 12 months.

"A lot more work needs to be done," Brownlee said.

Cabinet is expected to give its stamp of approval to the Lurp on Monday and it will then be gazetted. Once gazetted, the council's District Plan will be amended to reflect the new rules.

Cr Andrew Turner said yesterday he would have preferred more community consultation on the proposed intensification 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 Government's, , which would have allowed intensive developments in 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," he said.

- The Press

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