Tuesday 12 August 2014

Finally, some good news

Dave Kelly's not too pleased with parts of the Christchurch Central Development Unit's plans for downtown residential development. If this is the complaint, I'm taking it mostly as good news.

He notes:

  1. Residential height limits have been increased, with the higher limit applying over the whole area;
  2. Allowance for buildings taller than the height limit, with limited grounds for rejecting such applications;
  3. No neighbourhoods get special protection from potential building by neighbours;
  4. Avenues for neighbour complaints are more limited;
  5. No requirements for urban design consultation, which may facilitate the building of small apartments.
The only thing in here that might not be a-ok is whether CCDU got the recession planes right for shading. A big apartment building going up south of you is a much smaller deal than one going up just north of you. Existing owners' rights to sunshine do count for something; ideally, this would be handled through bargaining or, if hold-out problems were too severe, by payment of set fees to the affected neighbours for loss of amenity value. 

Small apartments suit a lot of people. We shouldn't ban people from building them, just because some people might not think you should live in one. Some people can afford big, well-appointed apartments. Other people can afford either a big apartment built to a lower standard, or a small apartment that's really well kitted out. And some others can only afford poor, cheap apartments. Regulations banning small apartments hit the latter two groups. Some folks will be in apartments bigger and less well-appointed than they'd like; others won't be able to afford their own apartment at all. 

Imagine if we had comparable rules about cars. No car can have less than so much total interior capacity. Ban imports of any vehicles that have less interior space than, say, a Rav4. Some who'd prefer a high-end small car might have to shift to a mid-range mid-sized car. Those who can only afford a used Fiesta won't get a car. And many won't be able to afford the fuel to drive as much as they'd like. Sounds really dumb, right? Suppose it were the status quo, though. And somebody proposed letting people buy Minis and Fiestas. We'd get the op-eds complaining about how it isn't fair that some people would then be forced FORCED! into small cars when it's some basic human right to be in a big car. 

I'm glad that CCDU's seeming to get one largely right here. 

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