Developers make a colourful splash with 'candy corner'

The new development. Photo: Supplied
The new development. Photo: Supplied
As Christchurch residents fret over the impact of housing intensification, two property developers are changing the look of some of the more neglected suburbs.

Brooksfield Townhouses directors, Vincent Holloway and Oliver Hickman, say they are also worried about the damaging effects of uncontrolled densification so are trying to do things better.

Their focus has been in Sydenham and Spreydon, and there may be no better example of their vision than a somewhat controversial development on Selwyn St at the end of Coronation St, which locals have dubbed “Candy Corner.”

Holloway loves the name, even though it was probably coined as a joke. 

“I love the fact locals think the buildings are iconic enough to deserve a name,” he said.  

Holloway and Hickman designed the “Coro Street” style apartments themselves, but added colour and left an established tree in place on the footpath.  

Now this part of Selwyn St, once one of the most rundown areas in the city, is more interesting – even though local businesses are a little unsure of its long-term impact. 

The derelict shops in 2008. Photo: Google
The derelict shops in 2008. Photo: Google
The units were sold to a mix of owner-occupiers and investors for prices in the $500,000 to $575,000 range.

Residents are speculating over who might move in. Manager of the Celtic Arms Inn Selena Holderness suspected they will be younger singles or couples. 

“Older folks won’t want them because they are two storeys, but at least whoever moves in won’t be low-lifes. I think it will be good for business,” she said. 

Selwyn Pharmacy owner Des Bailey also liked the development, even though the design is not something he would have chosen. 

It’s a big improvement on what was there, he said.

“I’m just not sure who will move in. Living in such small units so close together could create social problems,” he said.

Selwyn Superette manager Manpreet Kaur said she liked the colours, but was worried about parking. (All the units have garages or off-street parking.)

The development comes as new medium and high-density building rules for Christchurch appear on the horizon.  

Said Hickman: “They will allow just about anything on any site and that’s really bad for Christchurch.”

They concede there are examples of densification being done well by developers using good architects. 

Developers Oliver Hickman (left) and Vincent Holloway. Photo: Star News
Developers Oliver Hickman (left) and Vincent Holloway. Photo: Star News
Said Holloway: “It’s just that too many of these guys who are changing the face of Christchurch have spent most of their lives playing Playstation.”

Brooksfield employs English architect Ben Pentreath to do many of its designs. He is also responsible for a heritage precinct called Poundbury on the outskirts of Dorchester in England, a concept supported by King Charles.

“Our houses cost more to design because we use Ben. But that is a relatively small proportion of the total cost,” said Holloway. 

“For the buildings themselves, we keep things simple; big rectangles well-proportioned with bigger tall windows, high studs and perfect detailing on the outside.”

Holloway and Hickman also despair when they see so many trees on established sites being cut down. 

Trees should not only be a development requirement, but existing trees should also be saved wherever possible, said Hickman.

“Not only are they good for the environment, they foster community pride and add value,” he said.

-By Tony Simons