16 Apr 2015

Housing development 'being rushed'

5:48 am on 16 April 2015

Christchurch residents say they are being kept in the dark about a Government-backed housing development on trust-owned land to the west of the city.

Ngai Tahu Property has been confirmed as the developer, but nearby residents are concerned about land suitability, traffic congestion and how the new subdivision might affect their community.

National Party MP Nick Smith

National Party MP Nick Smith Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Last month Building and Housing Minister Nick Smith said the Government would have to pass special legislation to allow 600 new homes to be built on Riccarton Racecourse land.

Residents close to the racecourse attended a meeting last night in the hopes their local councillors and MP would be able to shed some light on the development.

But the meeting raised more questions than answers.

Wigram Labour MP Megan Woods said the west of the city could not avoid expansion since the quakes but said little thought was being given to the infrastructure needed to support another subdivision.

"I know how strong the feelings are running here about this and how it is that we can have adequate housing in this city but balance that against amenities, making sure our infrastructure is fit-for-purpose and not just building houses," she said.

"I don't want us to keep expanding west... and not have adequate transport links."

Riccarton-Wigram community board member Helen Broughton said the proposal was being rushed and the Government was not following normal process.

Christchurch City Council granted the project partial approval for exemplar status, meaning consents could be fast-tracked if the plan met certain criteria on density, affordability and sustainability.

Ms Broughton read out information from a senior planner at the council which indicated the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority decided the project no longer required that status.

"It is now understood from a meeting with Cera and Ngai Tahu Propetry ... that an exemplar development will no longer be pursued under the Minister for Housing's proposal."

Ms Broughton said the Racecourse Trustees were expected to seek a private land change to rezone the land for development but Earthquake Recovery Minister, Gerry Brownlee, had indicated something else.

Now the development would appear in the city's District Plan review, but would not include details.

"The Minister's comments on the draft stage two chapters of the District Plan seem to direct the council to include the site now.

"This has not been ideal as an outline development plan to manage the arrangements of uses and infrastructure has yet to be presented so what is notified will be very light on detail."

Most residents at the meeting opposed the proposed development but many said they could support it if they knew more about it and were consulted by Ngai Tahu Property.