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Roger Sutton’s first move – affordable land for his people?

  • May 14th, 2011

The Government and Christcurch residents are luckier today then they were before Roger Sutton was hooked to lead Christchurch. They know it, as David Farrar notes.

He has a man's appetite for risk. But this is a traverse, not a climb. He starts at the top of a peak. He'll plan and expect to end on another peak, but the odds are low of getting through without serious frostbite.

Despite the wide powers of CERA the job has all the exposures of politics except the need to fight elections. Coming from the constructive world of business he'll be astonished at the behaviour of his climbing partners. People with political power are much more likely to be flawed. Despite genuineness in wanting him to lead now, they'll soon be arguing about the route. Many will try to change where they're heading at every change in weather. Worst of all will be those waiting for crevasses. They'll let him fall in if he's not seen them, some will leave him to climb out without a helping hand, or even step on him as they go past. .

He probably knows of the risk that the job could end with ingratitude.

But he's always liked adventure and exploring.

I hope he uses his current popularity capital early and decisively. He'll know he must get government out of the way of the people who want to regain the initiative in their lives and businesses. . He must end the appalling risk aversion of the last 6 months of Christchurch's over-management.

A good start would be to simply dump all RMA constraints on what property owners do with their land, provided it does not cause nuisance to their neighbours, and complies with code requirements for safe, healthy occupation. 

The scale of the problem that could deal with is shown by this week's NBR report that Christchurch City Council and Ecan are still objecting to residential subdivisions even though Christchurch section prices at $220k median are the second highest in the country after Auckland, despite the large migration away, and the uncertainty of the future.

No revival, no city,  can withstand such grinding stupidity among those holding political power.

[3 hours later]  Roger Kerr has just blogged on house prices in Houston. Trust him to stay on the job while there to investigate cancer treatments.

When it is as cheap for a family to buy a house in Christchurch as it is in Houston the Jades and other Christchurch businesses competing in a global market can feel that their Council is there for them and not against them. That can't happen until Christchurch people are free to use their natural advantage of enough land for all conceivable future needs. Roger Sutton should apply the DDT to his city's planning parasites as soon as he can.


  • Jim Maclean
  • May 14th, 2011
  • 11:10 am

I never cease to marvel at the wonderful prose and the elegant imagery that Stephen uses in his comments, regardless of whether I agree with his conclusions or point of view. The analogy of alpine mountaineering is particularly apt as those brave (and some foolhardy souls) are presently preparing for Mt Everest's climbing season. I am mindful that past Councils in Christchurch objected to developments in some of the worst affected areas of Christchurch and were forced to agree to it by what appeared to be a poor court decision in favour of greedy developers.
If there is one area where I fear the politics of the far right, it is the belief that the market will always correct for buyer foolishness. Although I strongly agree with the elegantly expressed complaint against bureaucracy and have never understood those ignorant and mean spirited wannabe politicians who would see their country disadvantaged to gain an edge over their political rivals, I also see a role for reasonable caution in the calculated risk. Surely there is something of a middle ground?


thanks Jim,
good comment dude,
I leave Christchurch  next week.

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