Key hopes Christchurch Frame in place by 2013
Prime Minister John Key will not say how long the Government will negotiate with landowners before triggering compulsory acquisition in Christchurch, but today signalled he wanted to see The Frame in place by early 2013.
The Frame wraps around the Christchurch city centre to the east and south, and will affect more than 800 properties.
"It's a little bit early. We are not trying to hold a gun to their head, we are trying to get a good outcome for Christchurch. And we will certainly be working alongside them and hopefully will reach a resolution ," Key said today on his way into Parliament.
"In the fullness of time we will act if we have to, but our preference is to do it by negotiation. By the end of this year, early next year, we would like to be in a position to have The Frame in place."
He said quite a lot of the property owners stood to benefit from what was happening.
Asked if there was anything the Government could do to speed up insurance settlements and work for those in Blue-Green (TC3) areas, he said the Government was looking closely at the issue.
"It's very, very complex. We are doing the best we can but I just can’t make guarantees," he said.
"You have seen (Earthquake Recovery Minister) Gerry Brownlee has tried to push the insurance sector along. You have a situation where there are well over 600,000 claims now. There are only about 190,000 households but there’s multiple claims. There are different issues in terms of reinsurers, so there’s a lot of complexity to all that."
He said five-to-eight year delays in insurance settlements, cited by some residents, were "unacceptably long".
"I think the minister has (told insurance companies that) in not so many words."
GOVERNMENT SILENT ON REBUILD LAND COSTS
The Government will not say how much it will cost to buy the Christchurch land required for the new city centre.
More than 840 properties are affected by the CCDU blueprint's anchor programme, many of which the Government will have to buy or compulsorily acquire.
Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee would not comment on how much that would cost, but Prime Minister John Key said he had a "broad sense" of the total bill.
"We've got a sense of what that cost will be. We're not going to go and detail that [now] for obvious commercial reasons but the Government's made it clear it's got a vision and it's backing that vision."
Some of the initial cost would be offset when land within the "frame" was made available for sale under its new designation, he said.
That capital cost would come from the $5.5b fund set aside by the Government.
So far the government had spent about half of what was in the fund and it he was not ruling out more expenditure.
"It’s a very expensive process,’’ Key said this morning..
But the Government had said it would stand behind Christchurch and it intended to do so.
"Without the Government taking the leadership role we are, we would not be able to put together a comprehensive plan for Christchurch. So in the end it becomes a bit of a chicken and egg situation.’’
In regard to the acquisition of land for the plan, the Government’s aim was to ‘‘negotiate on a consensual basis with land owners but if we can’t then we will be forced, by virtue of the fact that we need all the land in The Frame, to involuntarily acquire that land. The general feeling is that we should be able to clear it up by the end of the first quarter of 2013, but let’s see,’’ Key said.
"There's an initial purchase phase and we'll be working with those land owners to try and do that on a consensual basis [and] beyond that there'll also be a sales process."
Land acquisition was a necessity, he said.
"It's really the only option if you want to get an integrated, co-ordinated 21st century city, otherwise you would require organic growth and it would be very hotchpotch, certainly not the result we want for Christchurch.
"We'll work very fairly with people. We're certainly not trying to rip anyone off. But on the other side of the coin we've got to get going . . . the land's not worth a lot in it's current state."
Key labelled the central city blueprint "a vision for Christchurch".
"It's been a very tough time for the people of Christchurch . . . but they've held on to hope and hopefully this plan rewards them with a vision for Christchurch.
"Cantabrians have had an opportunity to have their say and their say has been fed very much into this plan."
Private investor interest was already high, he said.
"I think the issue will be there'll be so many people interested in taking part. While it's not exactly a blank canvas it's pretty close to that so you've got the opportunity to put together a very liveable city."
Brownlee said the blueprint heeded the key messages put forward by Cantabrians in last year's Share an Idea programme. "This plan keeps faith with all of those requirements as well as adding in some locations for some very sharp, new civic facilities."
Announcements on the redevelopment of Christchurch Hospital, a technology hub and education facilities would come later in the year, he said.
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