[UPDATE: Eric Crampton says it way better than I can. Read him first.]
With Christchurch CBD owners shut out by the army, then council planners, then by the confiscations following on from Gauleiter Brownlee’s Central Plan – and with EQC and CERA and CCDU between them doing their level best to ensure few there or anywhere else will rise again -- one of the few things to celebrate in Christchurch's non-recovery has been the way businesses keen to survive have kept on keeping on.
With few places downtown to which to relocate, businesses have been setting up anywhere they can find a bit of space and a roof over their business’s head – in containers, in garages, and in workshops, offices and outbuildings all around the ring of Christchurch’s inner and outer suburbs.
It’s been inspirational to watch.
But from Day One the planners’ plans and prohibitions were doing nothing to help or encourage either new building or these relocating businesses. And today, they’ve announced they intend to actively and purposively harm them.
The council, who refuses to alter their pre-earthquake view of how the city must be developed by this who own it, is is now blocking off what remains the only outlet for this outpouring of entrepreneurial desperation. City planning manager (a misnomer if ever there was one) is a busybody called Bridget De Ronde. Just over 700 businesses have relocated into residential and industrial zones, she says, and she’l be damned if she’s going to let any others.
The new rules are in the city's draft district plan review, and would ban new office, retail and hospitality buildings in light industrial (business 4) zones.
This would halt construction in most parts of Addington, Lincoln Rd, Blenheim Rd and much of Moorhouse Ave, [the only places] where new buildings have [been able to] spring up since the earthquakes. It would also affect many suburbs and land near the airport.
The plan, open for public feedback now, comes as developers complain of insufficient tenants to start rebuilding in the central city.
The review document says the clampdown aims to stop "non-industrial activities that could adversely affect the strategic role of the central city, key activity centres, and neighbourhood centres as focal points for commercial, community, residential, and other activities."
Actually, it was an earthquake and years of council and government meddling that did it.
A lesson still not learned. (And a conclusive experiment still not understood, or even noticed.)
Expect the stampede of businesses out of Christchurch to continue, if not accelerate.