Victory for Amherst at Christchurch meeting

Amherst Properties is close to receiving approval for an out-of-zone-development in Christchurch.

Amherst Properties may yet achieve an out-of-zone development in Christchurch.

Amherst developer Lindsay O’Donnell made an impassioned plea today for Christchurch City Councillors not to become bogged down in process and precedent.

Councillor Sue wells, a stickler for city plan rules, and her political ally Claudia Reid, also made impassioned pleas about the council abandoning process, setting precedents, and opening the risk of potential liability.

Cr Tim Carter (son of Rich Lister, Philip) reminded the pair that Christchurch had experienced an unprecedented disaster, the development had passed an urban design panel, there were no objectors, a city planner supported it and the site had been used for commercial purposes for decades, even though it was still officially zoned for travellers.

The city should not be rejecting investment proposals when they were clearly so suited to the site at the beginning of Riccarton Rd, opposite Hagley Park, he said.

Mayor Bob Parker, in deference to his supporters Ms Wells and Reid, tried to have a bob each way by supporting part of the motion but also declining to vote for an amendment concerning traffic lights that might have held up the development for months or years – as reminded by Cr Barry Corbett, who also strongly supported the development.

The 12-2 vote passing the resolution was one of the most decisive in recent council history.

The vote paves the way for Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee to use section 27 of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act to allow the development to proceed in contravention of city zoning.

More details about the development and why it ran into such problems will be revealed in NBR NZPI on Monday.