Highfield subdivision fast-track sought

19:57, Sep 22 2011

New residents could be in Christchurch's proposed Highfield subdivision by the end of next year if a fast-track plan by its developer succeeds.

The 2100-lot subdivision is planned for a 180-hectare site between Redwood, Belfast and Mairehau and Marshland.

Developer Maxim Projects will lodge its resource consent bid with the Christchurch City Council today.

Maxim spokesman Roy Hamilton said the developer would take the unusual step of following up with applications for subdivision and engineering consents within the next few weeks. The usual path is to clear each hurdle before attempting the next.

"We're doing them in parallel to save time. We're not looking for short-cuts; we are looking to streamline the process," he said.

The company brought forward its plans because of the earthquakes, completing a year of planning in four months. It has had 600 mainly red-zone buyers register interest in the subdivision.

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"People in the red zone don't care about the process; they just want to get on with it," Hamilton said.

The land is within the urban boundary set by local councils for new housing but must be rezoned from rural to residential before the project can go ahead.

Highfield would offer house and land packages only, not bare sections, with homes ranging from apartments to million-dollar houses. Prices would start at $275,000, with most between $300,000 and $400,000.

There will also be reserves and two shopping precincts.

The site, bigger than Hagley Park and known as the Mills Hills block, is bordered by Hills and Hawkins roads to the east, Queen Elizabeth II Drive to the south, the planned northern motorway corridor to the west and the Styx River to the north.

Maxim has options to buy 90 per cent of the land from about 15 owners of mostly small holdings and says that is all it needs to proceed. A small number of owners do not want to sell and oppose the subdivision.

Hamilton said the land was not a swamp and that a geotechnical report last month confirmed it was still suitable to build on after the quakes.

If resource consent was granted by Christmas, the first homes would be ready a year later.

Maxim has been looking worldwide to source the earthmoving machinery, materials and labour needed.

The Highfield plan involves shifting earth from the high north end to the low-lying south. After filling and compacting, some parts would sit two metres above their current level.

Hamilton said Maxim would welcome the development of Prestons, a Ngai Tahu consortium's 2700-section plan also on the north side of Christchurch, and the facilities at the two subdivisions would be complementary.

The Christchurch City Council will now decide whether the Highfield rezoning application will be opened for public consultation.

The Press