The newly-formed Christchurch Central Development Unit will provide a blueprint for local business but not necessarily for the local community.

The creation of the Christchurch Central Development Unit within the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority has not only added a new layer of bureaucracy but has effectively shut out the wider Christchurch community out of the decision-making process that will rebuild the central city.

Having enthusiastically supplied its ideas to the draft city plan, this as now morphed into a 100-day plan to create a 'blueprint' for the central city. That will decided by Christchurch Central Development Unit supposedly in conjunction with the Christchurch City Council. But there is formal process within which any such 'consultation' will take place. The fact that the Christchurch City Council learnt of the formation of the Christchurch Central Development Unit only a day before it was announced will convince no-one of Mayor Bob's assertion that the council's role is not being watered down

But Christchurch business has enthusiastically endorsed the formation of the new bureaucratic caste because it has an organisation that will give it what it wants.

Such is the Development Unit's 'amiability' toward the interest of business is that it suddenly looks the vision of a 'low rise' city skyline is now up for grabs. The unit's chief Warwick Issac's told Radio New Zealand that the principle of building height restrictions was now in 'the melting pot'.

Colliers International managing director Hamish Doig told The Press there would be "a huge amount of relief and satisfaction" following the announcement of the Development Unit.

The blueprint would give developers and investors clear expectations, and ease concerns about the original plan's regulations, including height restrictions. "The reality is that the market will determine what is appropriate anyway. Nobody is going to build a building that is not going to be tenantable. What this is doing is actually saying, let the market forces determine within reason but this is the type of look and feel we want for our city.

"Let's encourage investment, let's make it easier for investors and developers to make decisions."

Bumped out of this business-dominated 'vision' of the central city is the wishes and interests of the local community. How much of the draft central city plan will remain once Warwick Isaac and co have finished with it?


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