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Call for a return to neighbourhood villages

Media release

7 May 2013

Embargoed until 2pm Tuesday 7 May 2013

Call for a return to neighbourhood villages

It is time to return to neighbourhood villages where “everything is interconnected and accessible within a 20 minute walking distance [and that] provide a unique sense of place and belonging”.

This is one of the key points highlighted in its submission on the draft Land Use Recovery Plan (LURP) by Eastern Vision, a group of influential voices working toward an overarching plan for the recovery of the eastern suburbs.

Eastern Vision spokesperson, Councillor Peter Beck, says “if we want resilient communities then it was the village hubs that provided this after the quakes not the suburban malls which are the focus of the LURP as it is currently drafted.

“We need to be building communities, not just subdivisions and infill developments. Masterplans need to be overarching Outline Development Plans for neighbourhood villages rather than narrowly focused on a few key business zones without reference to the residential communities they serve.”

Also identified in the submission is the need to “specifically identify the range of issues related to flood risk and provide a model for managed retreat that gives equitable outcomes for affected homeowners. At what point should areas subject to flood risk be avoided for development or redevelopment as the case may be? ”

Beck, says “this is not something that anyone wants to raise, especially in communities already reeling from the implications of TC3 zoning and insurance woes. However it is the reality that must be faced - a clear strategy must be worked through that provides a just result for all concerned.

“We now welcome the opportunity to raise these matters with Christchurch City Council as it revisits the District Plan. The eastern suburbs desperately need a planning framework that clearly defines and addresses these issues so we can have confidence in the recovery for all concerned - communities, investors and insurers.”


The submission also raises the need to strengthen environmental priorities and principles by giving robust support to the Natural Environment Recovery Programme.

“Because it is a Plan under the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Strategy, the LURP has enormous statutory clout yet because of the tight timeframes there has been limited opportunity for consultation with communities. Hopefully this can be addressed as the detail of the plan is rolled out and communities understand what it all means to them in practice”, says Beck.

ENDS


Notes for editors
Eastern Vision promotes a pathway for people, place, play and prosperity to thrive in the east. The vision is that the people of the Eastern suburbs lead a master planning process that creates an inspiring, galvanising and practical road map for immediate community regeneration. This will initiate and inform an ambitious long term transformation of the Eastern suburbs into vibrant anchor villages with character that capitalise on the distinctive assets and natural endowments in the district to achieve long term, sustainable, economic, social, cultural and environmental prosperity.
Eastern Vision Steering Group includes Councillor Peter Beck, MP Lianne Dalziel, MP Nicky Wagner, Humphry Rolleston, Councillor Glenn Livingstone, Evan Smith and Corinne Bolstad.
A copy of the full submission is appended.

Submission on
DRAFT LAND USE RECOVERY PLAN

Background:

Eastern Vision promotes a pathway for people, place, play and prosperity to thrive in the east. The vision is that the people of the Eastern suburbs lead a master planning process that creates an inspiring, galvanising and practical road map for immediate community regeneration. This will initiate and inform an ambitious long term transformation of the Eastern suburbs into vibrant anchor villages with character that capitalise on the distinctive assets and natural endowments in the district to achieve long term, sustainable, economic, social, cultural and environmental prosperity.

What we want to achieve:

We wish to facilitate a spatial plan that optimises social, cultural, environmental and commercial placement and dynamic interaction. The plan will be a comprehensive, innovative design for a quality living environment that maximises and capitalises on the district’s assets, mitigates the limits, retains and attracts a diverse and enterprising community of residents and visitors. It will detail the arrangement and location for both transitional and permanent housing, educational facilities, eco-tourism zones, cultural and health centres, sports facilities, and work environments, all in the context of attractively designed, linked and revitalised villages. Wetlands, wildlife sanctuaries, beach reserves and river precincts will be enhanced and promoted for recreation and eco-business.

GENERAL STATEMENTS

Scope

We note the matters out of scope of the LURP as directed by the Minister. We believe these constraints severely limit the Plan’s ability to address “what needs to change in terms of … land use … to enable the rebuilding and recovery of greater Christchurch” and to enable the vision of a Greater Christchurch as “a place to be proud of … for us and our children after us.” All six exclusions, listed on page 6, have specific significance to the recovery of the eastern suburbs in particular and are likely to result in a severe disconnect between the recovery of the east and that of the rest of Greater Christchurch.

The effect of these exclusions is compounded for the eastern suburbs by the lack of appropriate data (modelling is not yet complete) with regard to flood risk. As a result the opportunity to address future land use in the flood management areas is currently excluded from the Plan, despite not being deemed out of scope by the Minister. Indeed we would argue that its exclusion does not meet the Ministerial directive to give consideration of land use changes to avoid or mitigate “the changed or heightened risk of natural hazards.” We submit that this needs to be addressed within the Plan as a matter of priority.

Integration

The LURP lacks clarity with regard to its inter-relationships and linkages with other planning documents, strategies and programmes. There is no clear overview of these – the diagram on page 19 does not adequately address this (needs to include for example UDS, NERP, CWMS, Mahaanui IMP, CCC Public Space Strategy, etc). There is therefore no overriding sense of, or confidence in, a cohesive integrated urban planning framework for the recovery of Greater Christchurch and particularly the eastern suburbs.

The LURP has the ability to interact and make amendment to all regional-level policy and planning documents.

Consistency between LURP proposals and the objectives of those documents is therefore critical. Failure to achieve this will undermine the ability to realise previously agreed objectives. An important point is that the objectives of the existing policy and planning documents are generally applicable to the post-quake context, having been arrived at through consultation with the community.

The LURP is not an appropriate vehicle for reinterpreting community values. Rather the purpose of the LURP should be to identify how urgent recovery needs can be accomplished in a manner that is consistent with the previously agreed community values and objectives in the post-quake context. Features of the context that are appropriate include an increased focus on natural hazards, resilience and sustainability.

Consultation

We have severe reservations about the communication and consultation processes provided for in the drafting of such a significant recovery plan. There has been very minimal engagement and participation of the community in the development of the Plan for a number of reasons: the very tight time frames; the complexity of the Plan; the language in which it is couched; the lack of direct, effective and inclusive communication with communities; and the lack of real opportunity to assimilate, review and respond.

Because of this there is a need to build more effective and meaningful ongoing community consultation processes into the implementation of the detail of the LURP at regional, district and neighbourhood level. Timeframes have to better reflect this need.

Detailed Change Requests

Priority P2: R4 Robust provision is required to obligate those undertaking the independent review to consult directly, inclusively, effectively and meaningfully with communities.

Priority P3: R7 & R8 Provision is required for greater consideration with respect to access to local facilities and amenities especially for the elderly and disabled when undertaking temporary road and footpath closures – consultation with communities with local knowledge can result in improved solutions for this.

Implementation

The Plan is not clear as to which authority has an oversight and governance role, and accountability, for the implementation and integration of the Plan over the next 15 years. Such clarity is essential for communities, businesses and investors to have confidence in the recovery and its responsiveness to changing needs.

URBAN PLANNING

Broad Statement

The earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 showed us clearly that in times of disaster the most resilient communities were those that could rally around a local hub. Those with a defined neighbourhood village survived the earthquakes well as communities despite being cut off from other parts of the city eg Sumner, New Brighton, Akaroa. By contrast the large ‘Activity Centres’ immediately became non-operational and off-limits.

However the urban planning focus of the LURP is the strengthening of the few ‘key activity centres’ as loci of higher density housing and social activity, and the transport networks that connect them. There is little consideration in the LURP of the need to develop a more granular neighbourhood village structure, in either new greenfield developments or brownfield redevelopments.

Neighbourhood villages are based around the principle that everything is interconnected and accessible within a 20 minute walking distance – ie neighbourhood supports, basic shopping and business needs, amenities including green space. Neighbourhood villages provide a unique sense of place and belonging (Tūrangawaewae) and are based around active transport rather than the private car.

"They really enjoyed the way communities got together, meeting people in their street. They really appreciated that and wanted to keep it going."
Report by The Collective, an organisation involved in youth health and development, based on an online survey of 4159 young people aged 9 to 20 after the February 2011 earthquake.

Neighbourhood villages are diverse in terms of people (there is a need for barrier-free universal design in rebuilds and new builds) and buildings: mixed use (to permit the corner shop), mixed density, and mixed provision (social, affordable, rental and ownership housing). ‘Mixed’ in this context does not mean minimal token inclusion of extreme options to meet average planning requirements, but a true diversity of options that reflects the full spectrum of diverse needs of communities.

The LURP needs to encourage development of neighbourhood villages in an Outline Development Plan so that we build communities rather than just subdivisions. It needs to address the development trends toward disparate, dispersed non-integrated greenfield development. It needs to address severely restrictive covenants in new developments that prevent good innovative design and diversity of provision.

The Plan needs to recognise that there is a limit to which regulatory planning requirements can address this need and instead empower Urban and Landscape Design professions to implement good urban design principles in all developments and redevelopments. For example orientation of houses to fully utilise the sun, provision of green space, use of porous surfaces, encouragement of active and public transport and the importance of village hubs.

Business can not be considered in isolation. Master Plans must be broadened to consider residential as well as business use and areas.

Social & Affordable Housing Provision is specifically highlighted in the Ministerial directive. However the LURP promotes an over-reliance on HCNZ for this. The proportion of social and affordable housing in new developments and redevelopments needs to be clearly stated: based on assessment of need (eg Housing Pressures in Christchurch released by Hon Nick Smith, Minister of Housing on 4 April 2013).

Make provision to deploy quality planning in the redevelopment of older damaged suburbs and rebuild as exemplar communities. Consider alternative provision of social housing using international models – joint ventures (public/private), incentives, housing associations, etc that take into account higher density mixed housing with options of shared areas and amenities that develop a neighbourhood village ‘culture’.

Medium Density multi-dwelling body corporate accommodation, including cross-leases, suffer from “bad press” following the earthquakes. For these options to be more attractive the complex issues around ownership and insurance of such dwellings need to be resolved with some urgency.

Transport Infrastructure and type is very significant here. We need to plan for reduced dependency on private cars, more efficient and effective public transport systems and greater encouragement of cycling and pedestrian modes of travel.

Detailed Change Requests

Priority P1: Insert a new bullet point 3:The strengthening and establishment of interconnected neighbourhood villages with a high level of readily accessible local amenity that contributes to a unique sense of place and belonging.”

Priority P3: R11 Append “including at neighbourhood level.”

Priority P3: R12 Append “Complete transport analyses for the eastern redevelopment areas to clearly define infrastructure and service needs to guide decisions on reconfiguration and redevelopment.”

Priority P5: R21 Insert “This may focus on, but not be limited to, the 6,000 properties…”

Priority P6: R22 Append “and using land that may only support transitional accommodation in the medium term (eg due to long-term flood risk)”

Priority P6: R25 This response needs to be amended to include the myriad neighbourhood village centres along with the Key Activity Centres so that all the focus and amenity isn’t concentrated into a few key loci leaving the neighbourhood villages bereft of readily accessible facilities, amenities, identity and sense of place.

Priority P6: R27 Insert “… that enable comprehensive residential or mixed use developments in existing urban areas to support the creation or consolidation of urban villages, including … “

Priority P7: R31 Append “Such design to include provisions to support the strengthening of resilient neighbourhood villages”.

Priority P9: R37 This needs to include a directive that, Master Plans must consider residential as well as business use along with green space and amenity, to be meaningful and effective.

ENVIRONMENT

Broad Statement

We very much endorse the principles and priorities of the NERP but do not believe the LURP gives sufficiently robust support to these. The relationship between the two needs to be more clearly delineated.

We are concerned that appropriate consideration is given to best practice with respect to water management in brownfield redevelopments and rebuilds, as well as greenfield developments. We specifically wish to obviate the need for direct discharge of storm water into waterways and to ensure that waste water systems are not designed or rebuilt with an anticipation of overflows into waterways in high rainfall events.

Detailed Change Requests

Vision and Goals: Adopt principles of NERP for inclusion in the LURP’s goals and make specific connections between these recovery instruments. NERP Projects that need to be addressed within the LURP to demonstrate this include: 1, 3, 5, 8, (9), 11, 12, 13, 17 namely:

Investigate and plan for natural hazards –
Reassess the risks and susceptibilities of natural hazards
Report and map the results to inform land use planning and development

Reduce flood risks and restore drainage capacity of waterways
include flood mitigation; stopbanks and other works;
include resilient sustainable infrastructure in rebuild

Plan for stormwater management
develop an SMP for each catchment to fulfil the requirement for catchment-wide stormwater discharge consent.

Act on opportunities for stormwater treatment and improving the water quality and ecosystem health of waterways
include stormwater treatment systems
stream and river restoration
riparian zone restoration
establishment of constructed wetlands

Use LIUDD/stormwater treatment systems/wetlands to attenuate stormwater flows, reduce sediment, and improve quality of stormwater into waterways
during rebuilding consider changing the form of waterways to enhance stream ecology
plant river banks to provide food sources, habitat and shade.

Act on opportunities to reduce sewage overflows and their effects
reduce the incidence and effects of sewage overflows - during the rebuild, improve wastewater infrastructure to reduce/avoid wet weather sewage overflows directly to waterways; minimising their effect.

Protect groundwater and springs
incorporate land use controls to protect groundwater and springs
incorporate the daylighting of streams
ensure land use controls over the unconfined aquifer
investigate potential effects of foundation systems on groundwater
encourage the retention of natural springs and daylighting of streams.

Assess, retain and enhance biodiversity
assess, plan, rehabilitate and monitor highest-value ecosystems; biodiversity corridors, reserves, mahinga kai; inanga spawning areas
assess protected areas, highest-value ecosystems and species affected by earthquakes
investigate and recommend sites suitable for biodiversity corridors, reserves and mahinga kai
investigate establishment of an eco-sanctuary in available land along the Avon River/Ōtākaro
rehabilitate inanga spawning sites.

Support community gardens, local food production and urban forestry
on available land, support development of community gardens, orchards and urban forestry

Provide access to and opportunities for outdoor recreation
promote and advertise current available facilities
maintain and develop recreation corridors, networks and facilities
provide for passive recreation, visual amenity and community wellbeing during rebuild support the repair and development of recreation facilities/networks
provide access for people with disabilities
consider the establishment of water sports areas on or alongside the Avon River/ Ōtākaro
provide equitable access to and distribution of open spaces, parks and natural areas

Act on opportunities to restore and enhance mahinga kai
progressively restore and enhance mahinga kai resources and sites and the traditions of customary use associated with such resources
promote the principle of Ki Uta Ki Tai as a culturally appropriate approach to enhancing, restoring and managing mahinga kai
establish pā harakeke, rongoā and native plantings.

Priority P1: The statement regarding Regional Policy Statement Chapter 6 needs amendment to explicitly require much stronger environment protection and enhancement.

Priority P4 Add an additional R16A: Identify areas that should not be developed because of the need to protect & enhance environment eg riparian zones, wetlands, existing vegetation and ‘urban forest’, ground water protection zones and green space of sufficient size and location to support biodiversity dispersion thought out urban areas.

FLOOD MANAGEMENT & SEA LEVEL RISE
(NB we may provide additional comment in the next two days as we have arranged a briefing with CCC officials tomorrow which may assist our understanding)

As the Ministerial Direction states, in making these changes, “consideration is to include avoiding or mitigating the changed or heightened risks of natural hazards”.

The plan explicitly identifies that natural hazards need to be considered when deciding where new land uses should not happen, so new investment and development is not put at risk from future natural events. But what about existing developments?

The draft LURP appears to overlook the need to avoid or mitigate the heightened risks of flooding of existing properties due to the significant amount of land settlement that has occurred as a result of the earthquakes particularly around our waterways.

We are aware that the Christchurch City Council is currently undertaking modelling of the expected overland flows in light of the new land levels. Clearly this work will impact on the finished floor levels that will be required in these areas of risk, which now extend beyond the Flood Management Area (FMA) identified in Operative 48 of the city plan.

One of the problems our group has identified is that the council does not appear to want to extend the FMA beyond that presently provided for in the city plan, even though the risk has spread beyond those boundaries (new flood maps issued by council July 12 2012).

It would appear that the flood risk issues are holding up the repair and rebuild work in these areas, as, not only is the land subject to TC 3 soil assessment and specific foundation design, (DBH Guidelines), the finished floor levels may also have to be considerably higher than previously required due to the extent of the land settlement.

Under the DBH guidelines there is a limit on the amount of fill that can be placed on the TC3 land so this will also have a potential impact on the actual finished floor levels of individual houses.

We believe that there needs to be a robust assessment of the following matters, (utilising the GNS multi-hazard risk-scape approach: not just maps but risks and consequences), as part of the Land Use Recovery Plan:

(a) what mitigation is required – confirm that it is appropriate to extend the FMA covered by Operative Plan Change 48 which anticipates a 1 in 200 year event;
(b) what are the anticipated effects of sea level rise due to climate change – FMA based on 500mm sea level rise with maximum potential rise of 800mm;
(c) does the Median Ground Water Level Report suggest any updating required;
(d) what impacts are expected from coastal erosion; and
(e) at what point should areas subject to flood risk be avoided for development or redevelopment as the case may be?

It is this latter point that raises the ‘elephant in the room’ and yet it must lie at the heart of a Land Use Recovery Plan if it is to have any meaning. That is, how do we manage a retreat from areas of existing development, which ought to be discontinued for residential purposes due to the flood risk they are exposed to, in a way that creates equitable outcomes for existing homeowners in those areas?

In a way, the creation of the ‘residential red zones’ by the government, enabled over 7,000 properties to be abandoned without making any legal changes to land use designations. Unfortunately the outcomes for the existing owners were not universally equitable.

A managed retreat, if the time had been allowed such an approach, could have produced fairer outcomes for the ‘residential red zone’ property owners who were the ‘losers’ in the ‘winners and losers’ scenario. With over 7000 properties still within the flood risk areas, this may be an opportunity for the LURP to provide a model of best practice for the future.

We recommend that R4 specifically identify the range of issues related to flood risk and provide a model for managed retreat that provides equitable outcomes for affected homeowners.

And then we come to the impact of the heightened exposure to flood risk on the repair/rebuild of properties that remain in the areas of risk.

(a) what are the impacts of repairs being undertaken in the FMA when this leaves properties below the appropriate Finished Floor Levels;
(b) what are the impacts of repairs/rebuilds on adjacent properties – ponding where land is built up around a section that has a house is only being repaired and localised lateral spread when a single property is built up for rebuilding, where surrounding properties are being repaired,
(c) why does R4 mention only “introducing tolerances to recession plane provisions for housing being raised or rebuilt for recovery in flood management areas”?

It is extraordinary that the only aspect of the challenges posed by rebuilding and repairing in these flood risk areas is the recession plane tolerance. The proposal potentially gives the Minister sign off on these new tolerances without any further scrutiny.

We are opposed to increased tolerance or relaxation of recession plane regulations (R4) – important principles for community health & wellbeing that have evolved and become established over long periods of time for a reason (especially prevention of overshadowing). It is vital that the plan is not used to subvert these important principles while seeking to address inconsistencies in street rebuild/repair patterns in FMA as a result of the earthquakes:

What this points to is the need for comprehensive planning neighbourhood-wide, not at individual house level.

The plan also fails to address the reality that houses that will be repaired in the FMA as opposed to rebuilt will not be at the required finished floor levels which will leave them exposed to flood risk without any ability to mitigate against the risk.

The present draft must be updated to address all these issues in a way that ensures a fully engaged process with the affected communities.


ENDORSEMENT

This submission is written in collaboration with and endorsed by Canterbury Community Earthquake Recovery Network (CanCERN).

CanCERN is a network of over 30 Residents Association and Community Group representatives from the earthquake-affected neighbourhoods of Canterbury. We aim for full community engagement in recovery processes and to work in partnership with recovery agencies.

We advocate for:
• strong strategic leadership;
• effective two way communication and information flow;
• healed and healthy communities;
• revitalised small and medium business; and
• a legacy we can be proud of.


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