Red zone 'like a scar' on the east

ANNA TURNER
Last updated 05:00 06/12/2012

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Clarity is needed on the future of Christchurch's soon-to-be empty residential red zone, local leaders say, as authorities are still unsure of what will happen to the land.

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) chief executive Roger Sutton yesterday told the finance and expenditure select committee in Wellington "very little work" had been done to work out what would be done with red-zoned land.

By April, the residents of 7860 properties in Christchurch's residential red zone must be out. They will leave hectares of land.

"It's just early days. We've still got people living down there and . . . it's going to take a lot of work before we make those decisions," Sutton said.

However, Labour MP Clayton Cosgrove said the wait was delaying local authorities' plans for infrastructure.

"These councils are wanting to know what are you going to do with the land so they can get on planning infrastructure - where we need roads, where we need paths, where we need drains, where we cap sewers, where we need lighting. That of course has serious budgeting and planning implications."

Cosgrove was frustrated he had seen not "a single indication" of when a decision would be made.

"What I wanted from Roger Sutton was to know, have they decided what they're going to do with this land? Answer: No. Well, when are you going to make a decision? Answer: We don't know."

Sutton said he was happy to talk to local authorities about infrastructure that they want to get started on.

Earlier this year, Cera said it had commissioned a planning and landscape designer to work out how the red-zone land can be managed after houses are demolished.

Last night, a Cera spokeswoman told The Press the future of the land would not be discussed until land zoning was completed. That meant waiting until the Port Hills review was finished, which was likely to be this month.

There were no firm plans for the land and ideas were not being sought, Cera said.

When land zoning was finished, what would become of the land would be discussed at ministerial level.

Avon Atakaro Network spokesman Evan Smith said the uncertainty was adversely affecting the wellbeing of the community.

Smith has proposed a park running from the central city to New Brighton along the Avon River. His plans have received considerable support.

"The land is like a scar on the landscape out east and it'll remain so until some decisions are made. Whilst that's in limbo, peoples' lives are in limbo too and that can be crippling," Smith said.

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Councillor Peter Beck said the community needed to be involved in plans for the land.

"When a decision is made it is going to have to come from the bottom up, not the top down. We need some people in the community to come up with some great ideas."

What would you like to see done with residential red-zone land? Post your views in our comment section below.

- The Press

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