Thousands of Christchurch workers will not return

Last updated 11:13 25/09/2012

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Many of the 6000 businesses that occupied Christchurch's central business district prior to the quakes are unlikely to ever return, new research from Canterbury University suggests.

Professor Simon Kemp says a different mix of businesses are likely to occupy Christchurch's new compact CBD as commercial areas outside the central city, such as Riccarton, Addington and Sydenham, develop and grow.

Prior to the quakes around 6000 businesses, employing more than 50,000 people, were located within the Four Avenues. Many of those businesses were forced to relocate following the quake because of the extent of the damage to the CBD and others simply ceased trading.

Kemp said while the earthquakes drove many businesses to the suburbs, some would have gone anyway.

''We would not expect all the relocated businesses to return to the CBD and, indeed, it might be better both for many of the businesses themselves and for the Christchurch community as a whole if they did not.''

A research team overseen by Kemp asked 209 businesses who had relocated if they were satisfied with their new locations and whether they intended to return to the central city.

The results found small businesses were least likely to return (42%) while bigger businesses were most likely to return (55%).

''Types of business not so likely to return include many retailers, those offering financial services and businesses that are concerned with making or repairing things,'' Kemp said.

Law firms were among those most likely to return because they wanted to be near the courts.

The findings of the University of Canterbury research echo the findings of research done by Lincoln University, in association with commercial realtor CBRE.

That research, released in February, found the number of businesses wanting to return to the CBD had dropped by a third over the space of six months.

The researchers calculated the rebuilt Christchurch CBD might only need half the amount of office space it had before the earthquakes.

Kemp said most of the businesses that had relocated had gone to the west of the city - Riccarton, Addington, or a little further out. They had tended to stay as close as possible to the city centre rather than to the outskirts of Christchurch.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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