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Christchurch desperate for homes

Published: 5:26AM Friday March 22, 2013 Source: Fairfax

  •  (Source: Reuters)
    Source: Reuters

The pressure on Christchurch's housing market should ease within the next three years with an expected 30,000 sections coming on the market.

Another 12,000 sections are expected to be made available over the following 12 years, potentially providing the quake-hit region with about 42,000 more homes by 2028.

However, the current rate of conversion of land to sections on which homes can be built is not keeping up with demand.

In Environment Canterbury's draft Land Use Recovery Plan (Lurp), released yesterday, the region's "housing shortfall" is highlighted, with priority areas for residential sections identified.

It shows that by 2028, 42,606 greenfield sections could be available, with about 30,600 of those ready by 2016.

The land is badly needed as Statistics New Zealand figures project there will be another 36,150 households in Greater Christchurch by 2028.

In November, Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee ordered Environment Canterbury (ECan) to create a recovery plan to override existing land-use plans in Greater Christchurch, Selwyn and Waimakariri.

The plan will work in much the same way the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority's CBD blueprint overrides the Christchurch City Council's plan for the central city.

ECan's director strategy and programmes, Jill Atkinson, said the plan prioritised areas for future development, giving residents and business owners certainty about the future. "[It's saying] these are the areas where growth is going to occur and the plan will ensure the infrastructure will match that."

The plan provided for sufficient greenfield land to match the demand for new homes.

Atkinson said it also encouraged medium to high-density residential and business development around Christchurch's four avenues to ensure not all the city's life was located within the central business district.

ECan is also considering asking Brownlee to allow authorities to set tighter time limits from the granting of a consent to the completion, to stop developers "drip feeding" to the market.

Atkinson said a tighter consent process and a greater availability of sections would help stop prices "throttling" the housing market.

Figures from the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (Reinz) show median house prices across Christchurch city rose 8% between January 2010 and January 2013.

The median house price in January 2013 was $28,800 more than in January 2010.

Kennard Real Estate director Colin Lock said the new sections should ease the pressure on the market.

"It should moderate prices a bit, but developers won't do it for nothing," Lock said.

"People will only develop if there's a buck in it for them so why would they develop additional sections if there's no demand for them?"

Independent Property Managers Association president Martin Evans said the plan would help balance out the current supply and demand problem caused by a lack of land.

He praised the plan choosing priority areas where infrastructure, including roads, would be located, meaning people could easily live further out and work in the central city.

ECan commissioner Peter Skelton said the plan could ensure growth outside and inside the city. "The plan will make sure we have new housing and community facilities in the best possible locations and well connected with infrastructure which I think is really important. We are not in a position of a shortage of land."

The plan was produced by ECan and its partners - the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, Christchurch City Council, Selwyn District Council, Waimakariri District Council, Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu and the NZ Transport Agency.

It is now out for public consultation until April 19, with several community workshops planned.

After the consultation process, the draft recovery plan will be presented to Brownlee by the middle of this year.

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