The Christchurch City Council (CCC) is currently asking for submissions on the Draft Housing and Business Choice Plan Change which is a set of district plan changes to make sure it is in line with the National Policy Statement-Urban Development (NPS-UD) and the Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Act, which removes barriers for developing denser and taller housing in areas with good access to public transport, essential services and infrastructure. This plan would allow for upto three storey houses to be built around most places in Christchurch without needing a resource consent, aswell as even higher around commercial centres such as the City Centre, Papanui, Riccarton, Eastgate and Hornby where there is good access to public transport and services. The Christchurch City Council is also planning on introducing a financial contribution scheme where developers who do not plant at least 20% of a tree canopy on the site to pay towards CCC planting trees and developing green spaces on CCC land.
Here is our submission to the plan:
Generation Zero Ōtautahi endorses all efforts to encourage ‘building up, and not out’ within our city limits. Densification enables more amenities closer by - which in turn improves public health, decreases carbon emissions and improves community cohesion. We support all the increased height limits around the proposed centres in the city.
Enabling medium density (and more) without needing resource consent is an important part of this process. The co-benefits and opportunities for investing in frequent, fast public transport is enormous with these changes to zoning. Generation Zero stresses the importance of Mass Rapid Transit, which is key in enabling higher density development along the MRT routes, and vice versa. We therefore believe it is important that CCC quickly enables higher density development in areas that have been identified in the Greater Christchurch Mass Rapid Transit business case as areas that will be serviced by the proposed MRT.
Generation Zero is pleased to see more building development to be allowed (both residential and commercial) - and would like to see greater emphasis on mixed use zones - where both residential homes and business exist - eg. businesses on the ground floor, and residential housing on the storeys above. Mixed use development encourages more walking and cycling, and brings residents closer to amenities and services. It is important that we encourage developers to build more mixed use buildings for residents and commercial users. Mixed use development also makes communities safer by facilitating activity at more hours of the day, so as to avoid ‘dead zones’ or areas with very few people in them.
By allowing greater densification around the main centres of the city, we can long-term increase our city’s housing supply in areas that will allow people to be closer to amenities and their workplaces. It will provide greater choice for residents to live somewhere that suits them, not just a suburban family home, which is the only option for most people in Christchurch.
It is important that we increase our tree canopy throughout our city as trees have various benefits, such as carbon sequestration and climate control via transpiration cooling and shade. This is important for mitigating the possible increased heat island effect arising from increased densification. We support the plan to introduce financial contributions to help increase tree canopy coverage by charging a contribution from those that do not plant 20% tree canopy on a site.
Densification is better for the environment than sprawl, as green belts and other large public spaces with trees, plants and wetlands are much more effective in providing benefits of carbon sequestration and climate control than standalone plantings in lots and on the road. Therefore we want those financial contributions being used to create more green belts within the city.
Generation Zero believes that CCC should incentivise perimeter block developments where buildings are built next to the street edge, compared to the common infill developments. There are various advantages to perimeter block developments over infill developments. Perimeter developments allow for a backyard which makes it easier to create courtyards with trees and other plants, allowing for tree canopies to form in high density areas. As perimeter blocks and their windows are close to the street edge, there are more eyes on the street, which increases safety in neighbourhoods.