5 Nov 2014

CCC and Govt clash over planning rules

3:26 pm on 5 November 2014

The Christchurch City Council and the Government are at loggerheads again - this time over proposed new planning rules.

Christchurch City Council

The Christchurch City Council building Photo: SUPPLIED

The Government's submission to the Proposed Christchurch Replacement District Plan has labelled council moves to increase the supply of affordable homes, as inadequate.

The 400-page submission said the complexity and prescriptiveness of the rules would unnecessarily impede development and said hard decisions needed to be made now rather than leaving things to be heard consent by consent.

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Among other things, the plan dictated where development including housing and industry can go in the city and how dense it could be.

The Government was fast-tracking the consultation phase in order to get the chapters around housing introduced in time for the rebuild so that the new post-quake make-up of the city was reflected in the new rules.

Its submission noted that out of the 15,000 homes lost in the 2011 earthquakes, most were in the affordable category.

It said in order to replace these, the council needed to be taking a more flexible approach that acknowledged the urgency of the housing shortage in the city.

However, it was unimpressed with the answers the council has come up with in the plan, especially around medium density housing.

It accused the council of being over-cautious and sticking to a business as usual approach to development controls which could constrain and discourage innovative design.

As part of revitalising the CBD the Government wants to have 20,000 people living there by the time the rebuild was completed, but said the proposed new rules fell short of delivering this.

It said if residential development could not be encouraged in so-called brown-fields areas such as this, then extra pressure would go on expanding the city ever further which would put further strain on council infrastructure such as roads.

The Government said the new rules would limit its ability to build 180 affordable homes in the suburb of Sydenham because of its designation as a commercial area.

The $75 million project was launched with much fanfare in April this year at the same time as a housing accord was signed between the Government and the council aimed at getting on top of the housing shortage.

To have officials come back and say it would not comply with the proposed new rules was embarrassing for the council.

The submission said the role businesses will play in the recovery of Canterbury was not acknowledged and the proposals were weighted excessively towards restricting the negative effects of development.

It said the rules were highly prescriptive and more focused on making sure buildings fit aesthetically within their environment.

It wanted to see areas set aside where industry and commerce could happen without need for a resource consent.

A small portion of the submission was devoted to congratulating the council on its efforts to reduce people's reliance on cars and encouraging the better integration of public transport.

It also got the thumbs up for giving priority to the CBD when it came to encouraging commercial centres for retail.

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