Oh dear. In a sign that Christchurch is returning to it’s pre-quake normality, residents in an expensive-but-tasteless suburb are banding together to protest the arrival of – get this – an old house. The horror, the horror! Picking up a salvageable house from a damaged section is good for the seller, is good for the buyer, is good for the government, is good for the environment – but it might be a slight inconvenience to the neighbours who live in a 9 bedroom house and might be able to see this eyesore out the side of a window in the second upstairs ensuite.

Travis Country, which I had never been to, and am now adding to my “never visit” list, is a subdivision with strict covenants preventing certain dwellings:

Travis Country properties are subject to a covenant prohibiting “any dwelling other than a new house” on its sites. It also specifies houses must have a floor area of at least 190 square metres and not have steel garages or any fence made of, or appearing to be made of, iron.

Must have a floor area greater than 190 square metres? While they’re at it, they might as well add a clause “must deliberately build a house twice as big as needed, needlessly ramping up the property market and making it as difficult as possible for first home buyers to enter the market”. The average house size in New Zealand is 149m^2, so this subdivision requires that every house must be at least a third bigger than the average New Zealand house. 

The data on house sizes in that link was from 2011, so may be slightly out of date, but it should be noted that of the top ten districts with the largest houses, two of them (Selwyn and Waimakariri) are the boom suburbs on the outskirts of Christchurch. In Westmorland, the hill suburb where I used to have a paper round, the average size is 236m^2. How many rooms in these giant houses sit empty, whilst Christchurch still has people living in garages and cars?

I get this. Other people are annoying. Having neighbours sucks. Being part of a body corporate is difficult. So is working in an open plan office. Rather than develop relationships with other people, sometimes you just want to have your own room / office / house / suburb / island / planet. But as the population of the planet continues to increase, and more and more people choose to live in cities, we have to find ways of living better togather. Instead, these giant babies are choosing to live in giant houses in satellite suburbs, closing the gates on other people. The council, the government, whoever, needs to stop letting these insane covenants being placed upon subdivisions, before our city devolves into a collection of far-flung gated communities spread across the plains.