The Government’s list of concerns about the Christchurch City Council’s Replacement District Plan is worrying.
While acknowledging the considerable work the council has done to produce the plan on a severely shortened timetable and also supporting many parts of the plan, the Government has taken issue with some core elements.
The plan fails, the Government says, to encourage greater housing supply to the degree Christchurch needs. According to the Government, the plan would restrict rather than build on the intensification envisaged in Christchurch’s existing recovery plan. Worse, it would introduce a complex and costly process for subdivision.
District plans are written by town planners, and almost inevitably they increase powers for town planners and make housing and other developments more expensive and subject to the decree of town planners.
The council has done a monumental job in getting it to this stage in such a short timeframe. It is crucial, though, that it is right for the city’s purposes.
If they are valid, the objections by the Government and others are serious and must be fixed. As the Property Council said a few months ago, “getting this wrong has the potential to be catastrophic for our city”.
If any city in NZ should be looking at a less restrictive plan, it is Christchurch.