Parts of red zone 'won't be rebuilt'

MARC GREENHILL
Last updated 05:00 04/02/2012

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Parts of Christchurch's red zone will never return to their pre-earthquake position or be suitable for rebuilding, the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority says.

In a briefing to Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee this week, the authority said the severity of damage would rule out land repair in some red-zoned areas.

"Some parts of Christchurch will never return to the position they were in before the earthquakes. Some areas will no longer be suitable for building," the briefing said.

More than 5000 homes in an area estimated to be about 350 hectares – just over twice the size of Hagley Park – will be abandoned.

An authority spokeswoman said yesterday land remediation could not be guaranteed.

"That's why we've red-zoned those areas, because it's either never going to be [remediated] or it's just not financially feasible for the work required to do so," she said.

"It's a moving feast. Every time we get another big aftershock, it all goes again."

Brownlee said in June last year that it was expected the red-zoned land would be remediated, though it would take at least seven years until houses could be built on it.

A spokesman for Brownlee said yesterday the briefing paper statement on remediation should have included the words "in the medium term".

"We've always said no land is unable to be remediated. There's just a matter of cost and time," he said.

The timeframe on remediation was "north of five years", the spokesman said.

"At some time, maybe decisions will be made on whether [land] becomes parks or whether they're sold to people to build on, subject to them being able to do the work that would get them resource consent. Those are decisions very much for a future date."

The briefing paper said the authority expected the region's residential rebuild to begin mid-year.

However, "critical decisions" from recovery agencies were needed to "maintain and create momentum for the recovery going forward".

These included:

Supporting and enabling the insurance market to process quake claims in an "effective and efficient" manner.

Ensuring the labour market was able to support the rebuild effort.

Supplying temporary accommodation to support families moving for short periods for repairs and rebuild, and for workers.

Working through how to incentivise affordable housing to come to market.

Streamlining regulatory processes.

The briefing said "well-targeted interventions" by central Government would play a vital role.

The tourism and education sectors had been badly affected and might require specific recovery programmes or plans and possible Government assistance.

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"Over the next year, the critical question will be whether the recovery is moving fast enough to retain the confidence of residents and investors in the future of the region," the briefing said.

- Canterbury

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