Planned building height increase will create 'slums of the future'

"Ridiculous" is the overwhelming response from residents to Christchurch City Council’s proposed increase in building height restrictions from six to 10 storeys.

Star News canvassed residents from the Hornby and Riccarton areas to get their thoughts, after city council head of planning and consents John Higgins said these areas had been identified as large town centres as part of Plan Change 14.

“Council officers have recommended that the commercial building height for all of these areas is increased to 32m in the commercial zone, where 22m was proposed in the notified plan change,” he said.

Higgins said they recommended the high-density residential extent around all areas be increased to 800m, where 600m was proposed.

And that building height be increased by 2m to 22m in the residential zone.

He said the city council can only make recommendations to the independent hearings panel, which will hold a hearing on October 9.

Hornby resident David Trent said he does not like it and that it will change everything.

“It looks crazy, doesn’t it? It’s a crazy idea. They can build in the city and further out,” he said.

Tour coach operator Mark White said he thinks 10 storeys is too much and will create a completely different dynamic.

“It will lead to more congestion on the streets, and parking on the streets. It will become the slums of the future.”

Sales representative Jason Tombleson wondered if it was needed.

“I guess if there were areas where it was designated for it, it would be fine. People don’t want to see eyesores. Some residential areas have already been ruined by cheap housing.”

Hornby Ward city councillor Mark Peters said he was just as shocked as residents to learn about the new proposal.

“There was no inkling at all there would be an increase to the height making it 10, especially as residents were up in arms about six,” he said.

Peters said he felt a little blindsided and recommended residents get behind the Greater Hornby Residents Association to build its case for the hearings panel.

“I certainly hope that the panel listens, but it is out of our control. We just want what is best for our city and best for our suburbs.”

Association chair Kim Moss said they were considering starting a petition. 

“We are not happy and yes, it is blindsiding. You don’t expect from the consultation the complete opposite of what people have been saying. This is next level.

“Hornby will become an area where people will not want to live. It is ridiculous. We need to get the area up to scratch for those who live here now before we develop it further.”

Said Riccarton Bush – Kilmarnock Residents Association chair Tony Simons: “This so-called compensatory approach is arbitrary, late and totally unexpected.”

Simons said if there were to be any late changes of this significance, one would expect residents would be given time and opportunity to submit.  

“This is a plan change no one anticipated, and we think due process should see it properly notified with all parties given the opportunity to object.”

By Briar Allen