Council to speed up housing development approvals

1:02 pm on 24 June 2011

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker says the city's council will be moving to speed up approvals for new housing developments.

The Government's decision to buy up thousands of the city's most quake damaged properties has prompted alarm there may not be enough new land to rehouse those who move.

Real estate firm Colliers International is predicting a shortfall of vacant sections if thousands of householders take up the Government's offer.

The firm's valuation and advisory director, Gary Sellars, says his most recent stocktake shows there were only about 2600 vacant sections across Canterbury and, of those, just 760 were available for immediate sale.

Mr Sellars says the law of supply and demand indicates that if buyers rush in, prices could be pushed up.

But Mr Parker says thousands of sections are available in existing suburbs, and about 6,000 more are coming up at subdivisions that have already been approved.

In addition, he says, there is the Prestons development and other areas to the east of the city where the council is looking to accelerate subdivision approvals for about 6,000 new lots.

Mr Parker believes homes will be affordable, but says it's a very difficult time for people right now.

The Government on Thursday offered to buy 5100 properties in the most damaged area, zoned red. Owners could also choose to sell the land only and continue to deal with their insurance company to get their house replaced.

In residential orange zone, comprising 10,500 properties, further assessment is needed. About 9000 homes are in the Christchurch City Council area and about 1500 in the Waimakariri District Council area.

Properties in the residential white zone have not been fully mapped or are not residential and in the fourth area, the green zone, there is no significant land damage and repairs or rebuilding can begin.

The region has been crippled by two major quakes: on 4 September last year and the fatal quake on 22 February in which 181 people died and much of central Christchurch and many suburbs were badly damaged.