Topic: Alternative to Rolleston

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A five-point proposal to accommodate another 200,000 people in the immediate vicinity of Christchurch and make unnecessary the Government's scheme for a city at Rolleston was announced yesterday by the Christchurch City Council's Advisory Committee on the urban environment. Source: 1 December 1973

The proposal includes the development of Burwood and the lower slopes of the Port Hills, and the using up of unoccupied land within present residential areas. These points alone would take up to 145,000 people over the next 25 years, the Committee says.


"In the committee's judgment, there is no shortage of land for residential development within Christchurch over the next 20 years," said the Committee's chairman, Mr P. J. Beaven.


The  Committee was alarmed by the Government scheme which had three likely patterns of growth, all of which would be unacceptable to the community he '•said. "One pattern would involve stopping all new developments in the present Christchurch urban area after 1980. Only replacement of existing buildings would be permitted," said Mr Beaven.


"This might enable the new city to grow at a sufficiently rapid rate to become a viable urban area before the end of the century. But stopping all growth in the existing area would create problems for the present citizens of Christchurch." New suburbs in Burwood and on the Port Hills would have to be prevented, the urban redevelopment programme would have to be curtailed; commercial and industrial development would stagnate; and some establishments would move to the North Island to escape the restrictions said Mr Beaven.


"A second pattern would involve attracting industry and people from other parts of New Zealand. But the Rolleston location is not an attractive site for new industry, and the Government would have to provide massive subsidies to get them in the area. "However, although some foot-loose industry, would come from the North Island, the majority would be at the expense of the already depressed parts of the South Island such .as the West Coast, Ashburton, Timaru, Dunedin, and, perhaps, Rangiora and Invercargill, contrary to the Government's regional development aspirations," he said. If neither of these actions were taken, the pattern of the new town at Rolleston would be a dormitory suburb of Christchtirch, with a high proportion of its workers commuting daily to Christchurch. "The new city would become a second-class urban area - a Porirua-off-the-sea - and well into the forsee-able future the so-called city would lack the facilities of an independent life of its own," Mr Beaven said."This last pattern of the dormitory super suburb is both the least satisfactory and the most likely..


'It would mean a mass movement of men leaving the area each day, clogging the existing transport links with Christchurch. Their wives will be left in new housing suburbs with few social and shopping facilities. For at least a decade the secondary school children will have to  commute to a high school  outside the area, and there will be little to keep them there after they leave school. Older people will not be attracted to Rolleston, neither will the more affluent", he said. In the absence of further gowth in Christchurch, the desire of the more wealthy to stay would push up land prices and drive more of the Iess wealthy and the young 'out.


"Not that Rolleston will be that much cheaper for residents. Land prices, and hence housing, may be lower, but every home will need two cars and the large numbers that commute to Christchurch will find travel expensive. "If the new suburb grows slowly, then these problems of isolation and lack of viability will last for many generations. If it grows rapidly, although we are not sure where the population is to come from, then we are sure there will be serious social problems, particularly juvenile misbehaviour and adult alienation," said Mr Beaven. Alternative development could get round all of these problems, and there appeared to be ample scope to absorb between 130,000 to 200.000 people in Christchurch and its: immediate vicinity over the, next 25 years, he said.

The committee's proposals are: 

Filling up the land now zoned  residential (45,000 people).
Development on the lower  slopes of the Port HillsI (30,000 to 50,000).
Urban renewal and comprehensive redevelopment  within the city (20.000 j to 30,000).
Limited "tidying-up" of the urban fence to remove anomalies (10,000 to 30,000).
Development of Burwood, "ideally situated" close to recreational areas, such as the beach and Queen Elizabeth II Park, and potential industrial parks just south of the Waimakariri River '(30,000 to 50,000).


"Such development would be within the present social and economic' structure of Christchurch. Indeed, properly co-ordinated, it would enhance the . cultural, recreational, and physical environment of the city," said Mr Beaven .

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