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Councillors urged to vote against housing density to show Government ‘who owns this city’

Residents in the council chamber on Thursday, urging them to oppose the Government-directed density rules.

JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/Stuff

Residents in the council chamber on Thursday, urging them to oppose the Government-directed density rules.

Concerned residents want Christchurch city councillors to send the Government a message over its housing density rules, with one resident saying they should take inspiration from Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy standing up to Russia.

Councillors met on Thursday and were expected to vote on a plan change which would allow up to three, three-storey homes on most sections across the city.

But after running out of time to sort out amendments and debate the rules, mayor Lianne Dalziel decided to adjourn for the day. The council will meet again on Tuesday at 8am.

On Thursday, councillors heard from concerned residents about the proposed changes. Everyone who made a presentation urged councillors to vote against the rules.

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One example of what could happen under the new rules.

Christchurch City Council

One example of what could happen under the new rules.

Dalziel and several councillors have expressed strong opposition, but have also warned their hands were tied as the new rules are required by a 2021 Government law. They will still go through, even if the council votes against them.

But residents want councillors to send a message.

Marc Duff from the Greater Hornby Residents’ Association said: “I think you need to show central Government who owns this city”.

Resident Greg Partridge questioned if councillors wanted to be remembered as leaders who fought for the people or be seen as weak representatives who did not fight back against the Government.

“[Ukrainian president] Volodymyr Zelenskyy fought back against the dictatorship next door to him, you guys should be doing the same here in New Zealand,” Partidge said.

Grant Wilson from the Central Riccarton Residents’ Association says mayor Lianne Dalziel’s vote will “define her mayoralty”.

JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/Stuff

Grant Wilson from the Central Riccarton Residents’ Association says mayor Lianne Dalziel’s vote will “define her mayoralty”.

The new rules were a rushed, quick-fix solution to the housing crisis which would turn Christchurch into “a grey leafless concrete jungle”, he said.

Grant Wilson, from the Central Riccarton Residents’ Association, told Dalziel the decision she made would define her mayoralty.

“Reject these plans and then let the Government dare to return serve,” he said.

Tony Simons from the Riccarton Bush Kilmarnock Residents’ Association said the changes were totally unsuitable for Christchurch.

“This plan is also totally unnecessary and it is damaging,” he said.

“Vote for what is right, not what is expected.”

STUFF

Housing Minister Megan Woods and Environment Minister David Parker announce a law change that will allow landowners to build up to three storeys without resource consent. (First published October 2021)

Losing sunlight from intensification was one of the residents’ main concerns. Many sat in the council chamber holding placards saying “stop daylight robbery”.

During the meeting, Christchurch City Council lawyer Brent Pizzey warned that if the council voted against implementing the rules, the Environment Minister could step in and implement them anyway.

The minister could appoint a Crown manager to notify the rules and the council would have to pay the costs associated.

The rules could also be stricter in this scenario. If a crown manager was appointed, they may not approve the exemptions the council is seeking for a few areas. Those exemptions are on the grounds of heritage, coastal hazards and infrastructure constraints.

As the meeting was adjourned, Dalziel acknowledged those who made presentations and thanked staff for their work.

She said “exceptional pressure” had been put on the council because of “the substantial changes that were imposed” on the city.

“There is still a little bit more work that needs to be done.”

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