Housing on the cards for Christchurch red zone land

Riverside trees in the red zone.

Riverside trees in the red zone.

New housing has been confirmed as a possibility for Christchurch's red zoned river corridor, after close to 7000 households were cleared off it following the earthquakes.

Crown-council agency Regenerate Christchurch on Friday included residential development on five out of 10 land use options it announced for the 602 hectares.

Regenerate chief executive Ivan Iafeta said their goal was to find out how to make "the biggest contribution to Christchurch and New Zealand's future".

One of the shortlisted land use options for Christchurch red zone land.

One of the shortlisted land use options for Christchurch red zone land.

They had considered cultural, economic, environmental and social aspects when choosing options. Nothing was decided, Iafeta said.

"A wide range of exciting possibilities remain on the table."

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Another short listed options for the red zone land.

Another short listed options for the red zone land.

The options set out combinations of uses around an 11-kilometre green river corridor. They include tourist attractions, ecological restoration, horticulture, recreation, and pockets of clustered housing. Iafeta said there was plenty of room for proposed ideas, which included water sport facilities and an Eden Project.

After a one-month public consultation period, three options will be presented in a summer exhibition, along with design details and costings. A draft regeneration plan will follow.

A Regenerate summary said while residential development needed to be investigated, it was "crucial" any such plans aligned with "the wider regeneration of the area and surrounding communities".

Nearly 7000 households were cleared off Christchurch's residential red zone.

Nearly 7000 households were cleared off Christchurch's residential red zone.

Regenerate's feasibility study found up to 265ha of the red zone could be suitable for housing. While repairing individual sites would have been too costly and time-consuming after the earthquakes, new technologies could make area-wide remediation affordable, the report said.

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It said remediation would involve filling and raising the land, and shoring it up with stone piles. This would cost well over $100 million and the land could be sold for $35m profit.

Various types of housing – including lightweight, transitional and adaptable styles – could be used to keep the homes affordable, the report said.

Thirty private landowners who resisted red zoning remain on the land. Regenerate said it would consider their views when forming a final plan.

The Crown spent $1.5 billion on red zoning after the earthquakes, of which most was spent in the Avon River suburbs.

Christchurch landscape architect and planner Geraint Howells said selling some of the land was essential to make the river corridor plans affordable.

"If we are looking to do some of these projects, then we have to raise the money somewhere.

"If that's through selling land for housing, that's a very valid way of raising the capital so the taxpayer isn't paying it all. The taxpayer has paid enough."

Howells said as well as set up costs, maintaining the public areas would be very costly for ratepayers and selling usable land would reduce this.

"Look at Central Park in New York – it's half the [red zone's] size and they have millions of ratepayers to support it. We are a small city."

Red-zoned former River Rd resident Di Madgin​ said that after resettling elsewhere she would not return to live in new housing in the area, but remained "emotionally attached" after living there for 35 years.

"It was a huge shift. We felt robbed. I could not do that again."

Madgin hoped any plans for housing on the land would be made with proper consultation, and with respect for people who had lived there.

"Christchurch people have been let down in a lot of ways and not listened to. We need some promises to be kept".

 - Stuff


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