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Housing Intensification To Be Done Well?

Combined Residents’ Associations (CRA) Christchurch welcomes the more considered and tailored approach to housing intensification signalled by the National Party, and believes the party’s decision to ditch the blanket one-size-fits-all approach to density should prompt Labour to rethink its position as well.

The bi-partisan intensification legislation was supposed to ensure Christchurch ended up with a well-functioning urban environment to promote social, economic, and cultural wellbeing but it was clear, from the outset, it was likely to achieve the opposite by promoting intensification for its own sake rather than for the benefits of communities.

The devil in National’s policy change will be in the detail which we have yet to see.

CRA still has significant concerns about allowing developers to build six storey apartment buildings along transport corridors and around shopping centres, unless it can be proven those heights are needed to meet housing demand, and it is done in accordance with already-established council controls.

It also wants councils to ensure greenfield development is not approved on highly productive rural land.

The intensification legislation was based on poor research and evaluation (lacking proper peer review), no recognition of regional differences, deficient analysis of social impacts, and shabby urban and building design standards, none of which would ensure it was done well.

The Loafers Lodge tragedy also drew into sharp focus the lack of stringent fire protection requirements for denser housing which may well have offset any cost benefits associated with high density or MDRS.

CRA now suggests the Independent Hearings Panel process in Christchurch be immediately set to pause, to avoid wasting more ratepayers’ money on a process that is now deeply uncertain.

The government has already indicated a desire to “tweak” the legislation in response to National’s proposal, so there will inevitably be some changes after the election, whatever the outcome.

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