Housing Density Rules: Support for Christchurch Congregation to Fight Back at Meeting

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Christchurch City Council is pushing back rules requiring councils across the country to allow three houses, three stories high, on most properties.
Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

Christchurch is fighting back against the government’s new housing density rules and ACT party leader David Seymour was happy to raise this in a public meeting.

The city council is pushing back rules requiring municipalities across the country to allow three houses, three stories high on most properties.

Mayor Lianne Dalziel called for a “tailored approach” in a letter to Environment Minister David Parker.

At a public meeting on Thursday, Seymour approved the council’s move and told residents that infrastructure, not zoning, was the problem.

“If we have to build additional infrastructure for densification in a place that a developer chooses. It will be much more expensive than if we can concentrate it in specific areas, we plan to intensify it,” he said.

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“That’s your fundamental problem.

“So we would allow municipalities to regain that control and power.”

ACT party leader David Seymour addresses a public meeting on housing density in Christchurch on Thursday, September 22, 2022.

ACT party leader David Seymour addresses the public meeting in Christchurch on Thursday.
Photo: RNZ / Adam Burns

ACT also proposed a GST sharing scheme where the government would share 50 percent of GST revenues from building a new home with the municipality, which authorized it to cover infrastructure costs for new housing projects.

Residents at the meeting also expressed concerns about inadequate infrastructure, but added the loss of sunlight and trees to their concerns.

A letter on behalf of a number of community groups sent to Dalziel this week made several requests for a tailor-made housing plan.

Riccarton Bush and Kilmarnock Residents’ Association president Tony Simons said the community should have a say in the complex issue.

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“The only thing I’m really concerned about is if we eventually come up with a custom housing solution… that people like this will have the opportunity to bring some in during meetings like this.

“Otherwise it will be a sting again.”

Local real estate developer Mike Blackburn agreed that a one-size-fits-all approach was the wrong move.

He believed that there would remain a demand for larger family homes in the outlying areas.

“The average household occupancy in Christchurch is 2.7 persons per household.

“What we are currently building with all these medium density units is 77 square feet, which is the median size of all these units.

“They are not fit for purpose.”

Council candidate for Papanui neighborhood Victoria Henstock criticized incumbent councilor Mike Davidson during the meeting.

Davidson was one of five councilors to vote in favor of housing density rules.

“Intensification of housing was the second most discussed topic when I spoke to people,” she said.

“Many of the [Papanui] people I spoke to expressed frustration that their current councilor had not heeded their concerns and voted for the intensification.”

A patron at the meeting asked Seymour for comments from Infometrics chief economist Brad Olsen.

Olsen told Newshub’s am early the city council pulled “the middle finger” at young New Zealanders pursuing their first home purchase, by opposing housing density rules. Seymour dismissed the comments, saying that Olsen was “smarter than that”.

Dalziel hoped the council would receive a response to the minister’s Christchurch concerns before next Thursday.

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