Christchurch's new blueprint looks likely to cause a jump in property values in the eastern central city, triggering a call for action to stop low-income residents being pushed out.
A combination of rebuilt housing and the blueprint's green frame is expected to boost values and rents in the neighbourhood, traditionally a source of cheap privately owned housing.
Social agencies held a lunchtime meeting with landlords this week and will approach the city council and Housing New Zealand for a solution.
Tessa Laing, a researcher from the Anglican diocese's social justice unit, said government incentives were needed to encourage a mix of housing types in the area. These could be rental subsidies, low-cost loans or grants to landlords.
"If the market follows its natural course, we'll see these people squeezed out and shoved to the outskirts of the city where they will have no support," she said.
Laing said landlords at the meeting were keen to make the concept work, and many had a good conscience towards disadvantaged tenants. She hoped the council and Government would be supportive.
The blocks between Fitzgerald Ave and Madras, Kilmore and Hereford streets were vital, but the zone could extend as far as Stanmore Rd, she said.
Landlady Liz Harris said some rent rises were inevitable but she would like to see a mixed community created.
"I hope it will become more of a mixed area," she said. "Just because people cannot afford much, that doesn't mean they are not good tenants or good people. I would like to have them back."
Harris said she was building low-rent homes as well as pricier ones to replace the apartments, units and boarding houses lost in the quakes, and was topping up insurance payouts with her own funds.
She said that while the blueprint looked positive, quick action on the green frame was needed to attract residents.
"If we see this [the frame] happening, and don't get too many objections holding things up, it will be a very good thing," she said.
The Government will buy eight city blocks between Madras and Manchester streets to form the eastern side of the green frame.
The frame design includes walkways, cycleways, a playground, cafes and restaurants, as well as some housing.
Property valuer Mark McSkimming, of Knight Frank, said the blueprint was "expected to have a positive impact" on the area.
An estimated 250 single units or bedsit rooms were lost from the central city in the earthquakes.