“Future Slums” coming soon to YOUR street

Throughout all of New Zealand, but especially in Auckland and Christchurch, we know that there is a shortage of housing and a massive shortage, of “affordable” housing.

(Indeed if instead of using the government’s modified interpretation of the word “affordable” to mean “actually affordable under normal bank lending criteria by a worker earning what wages are actually paid”, then there is zero affordable housing available to be bought in Auckland and Christchurch).

Congratulations therefore would seem appropriate for the two young men (Matthew Horncastle and Blair Chappell) who have, according to an article in this week’s newspapers, built more homes in inner city Christchurch than even the Government.

Given their kickstart in life by being part of the Horncastle real estate family dynasty, (which they admit has helped with their education and finances) they’ve still put in a lot of effort themselves.

However I fear that much of their efforts have been misguided and they have simply been building (what one commentator, Jono5 described as) “future slums”. The guys suggest in one article that their buildings will stand for 100 to 200 years. That could be an awful lot of slum-living for an awful lot of unfortunate people. Their buildings in my neighbourhood of the Central City area, look little better than a prison. There seems to have been no thought given as to efficient solar passive design for example. Just plain rectangular boxes, two-stories high.

Another article pointed out how many people are against their 39 unit development opposite Hagley Park. Yes I’m sure it’s being built to comply with all council and legal requirements. But since Christchurch “Shitty” Council recently changed their rules, new housing is permitted with ZERO car-parking on site and ZERO direct motor vehicle access.

Their currently under-construction Hagley Park “future slum” is in an area which already suffers from a massive shortage of parking. Many nurses and other hospital support employees already have to be bussed in on extra private shuttle buses from parking areas well away from the area. That’s because some bright-spark decided to do massive re-development to Christchurch’s main hospital at the same time as surrounding buildings, all while no parking building was available.

(After several years of talking, they are now saying a new parking building will be built in another two or three years. It’s been suggested that it’ll be privately owned and operated, probably by the likes of Wilson Parking, a Singapore owned company, famous for providing minimal actual “service” at maximum cost).

I live in the inner city, a small block of 1970’s built units, four being two-bedroom and a three-bedroom unit. We all have one garage space and one car-parking space on the drive beside. Yet as a “micro-community” we usually run to well over 12 cars, and that’s even though several of us have bicycles which we do use sometimes also.

Just down the road from here is one of “Williams Corporation’s” builds. It’s been finished for a couple of months now and sits empty, by the looks of it, un-sold and un-rented.

By amalgamating two unusually very-small individual house’s sections, they have built six tiny two-storey units. Just simple rectangular boxes. Not even with small upstairs balconies (it’s been known since the 1950’s that balconies “should” be installed on two-storey and above buildings). By checking the council website it seems they each occupy about 70m2 of land (includes a small outdoor courtyard,  and room to park your bicycle and council rubbish bins).

In common with the William’s ethos, there is zero car-parking on-site, and currently just one legal car-parking space on the road outside. (Full disclosure, it’s on the corner of a busy intersection, and the arrangement and future re-painting of yellow lines might at some later date be tweaked to allow 3 street-side car parks).

In a wander around the neighbourhood a few weeks ago I saw several more of their constructions, they seemed to be built to exactly the same plan. I will go back for another look later, but I do not recall seeing any car-parking available on-site there either.

The guys claim that folks nowadays prefer to use their bicycle to go everywhere or to pay for “Uber” taxi rides. Although that’s true to a VERY limited degree, I think the people able to pay NZ $375,000 for a one-bedroom apartment, are likely to also have the financial means, and the requirement, to own a car.

Here follows two links. The first is to one of the original stories this week, and the Second is a link to a short video showing the outside of one of their “future slums”. I have been waiting for a “Home Open” when I could go in and take some photos of the inside, but have never seen a home open advertised. Although several of the windows sport “For Rent” signs stuck to their insides. Those six nearby units appear to still be empty. (UPDATED 13 February 2018. I was past earlier and saw several windows opened. I’m not sure whether they were just airing the places out prior to a “home open” or showing, or perhaps some people have moved in there now. I’ll check it out more closely later, and get back to you.)



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