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Council plans to enable 1000s of new homes

Safiya Mehta-Woledge
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University of Canterbury students learning about what housing could look like in Otautahi  Thomas Blakie

The Draft Housing and Business Plan could create a brand new Ōtautahi but what does this mean for the state of the city now?

The draft Housing and Business Choice plan is the Christchurch City Council's take on the Government's push to improve housing in Aotearoa. 

The act put in place by government is called Medium Density Residential Standard (MDRS).

This means at least three-storey housing has to be enabled in certain areas of the larger cities unless there are valid reasons not to.

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In Christchurch it has been proposed to have 10-storey housing in the city centre and then six storeys in areas seen as big residential hubs such as Riccarton, Papanui and Hornby. 

This cascades down to smaller housing further away from these metropolitan areas as shown on the map above. 

The council is now asking for submissions on the plan, wanting to know what Cantabrians want their housing to look like. 

There have been a lot of opposing voices on the issue with some having concerns about what this means for their neighbourhoods. 

More housing means shade due to bigger buildings, more carks parked on streets and people are worried about whether the infrastructure can handle it. 

Greg Partridge, a housing and urban planning enthusiast, is outraged with the government's plan and the council's acceptance of it. 

He believes Christchurch is not equipped for medium density housing in such a widespread way while still recovering from the earthquakes. 

"This 'blanket bombing of Christchurch plan' is going to have long-lasting and drastic irreversible implications for our existing neighbourhoods, many of which are well established and have been for well over a century."

He says this is the 'uglification' of the city and is a poor use of funding when there are better approaches to implementing more housing. 

In his opinion the city council should be focused only on the city centre and not on creating large buildings in residential zones when the heart of Otautahi should be the most populated. 

He also has concerns for how this will impact the climate due to developers having to cut down trees to build homes. 

"Our planet is racing towards the edge of the climate change cliff, so cutting down all the trees is a really stupid idea." 

However housing advocate Thomas Blakie disagrees with this and sees the council's plans as a step in the right direction. 

"We absolutely need housing and this is a good start."

He believes cities should be able to develop naturally based on where the need is, and says right now it is widespread across Christchurch. 

"We cannot ban desperately needed housing based on the personal preferences of individuals who are already housed, especially while facing the sharpest rise of housing costs of any OECD country." 

In terms of climate effects he discussed a plan the council has put in place with developers where they would pay a contribution in order to cut down trees, and this money would then go into planting more, to balance out the damage. 

Have your say on the Draft Housing and Business Choice Plan here


Submissions close on the 13th of May.