Lyttelton resident and property developer Janet Stott believes the rebuild of the shattered town will embrace sustainability as people move toward a lower energy lifestyle.

It's a challenge she's ready to take on with her next development, a five home subdivision high on the hills of Lyttelton off Jackson's Road.

"I've lived here for at least 10 years and it feels like being in the arms of an earth mother. Even now people celebrate how good it is to be part of this place despite the fact we are hurting. Our little town is in chaos but the community spirit is still strong."

Stott lost her Sumner restaurant, The Ruptured Duck, in Christchurch's September 4 quake but carried enough insurance to make it possible to get back to doing what she loved - property development.

"It's given me the time and resources to work on turning the dream of a sustainable community into a reality."

February's devastating aftershock that reduced large parts of Lyttelton to red brick rubble has reinforced her vision for a development that is connected and enriching.

Her complex of five homes will draw on a sense of community where there are shared spaces and open doors.

"I saw this subdivision in Canada where all the front doors of the homes faced onto the street and they had verandahs so people could talk to each other."

Stott says the development will use grey water systems and be "panic proofed".

"If we do have another disaster, god forbid, we can be more resourceful. We'll have our own supply of water and mini-generators.

"I look at Napier after the 30s and its Art Deco rebuild reflected what was happening in the community at the time.

"What happens now in Lyttelton will reflect what's important now to our communities and that is sustainability. We want to keep our carbon footprint low and create new spaces for living, working and socialising while accessing local labour, local contractors and local products.

"We have been given a fresh canvas to work with so now's the time to be asking what will our cultural based architectural landscape look like in the future."

And for Stott, that's a future that's eco-friendly and truly sustainable, "development that lets us tread lightly on the earth," she says.