Property owners upset at values

Christchurch city centre property owners have hit out at the Government's valuation for the land it plans to acquire, claiming it will leave many out of pocket.

The Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU) this week sent notices to 47 owners of 104 properties, notifying them their land was earmarked for anchor projects in the central-city blueprint and it planned to acquire it if negotiations fail.

However, it is already negotiating with some of those affected.

The Crown is basing land settlements on market valuations, which include recent sales, the condition of the land, insurance, and location.

It cannot take public works, including blueprint anchor projects, into account when valuing.

Peter Whittaker, co-owner of the Kenton Chambers building on the corner of Hereford and Liverpool streets in the eastern frame, said indications about what he would be offered for the site were "not acceptable".

Many property owners had drawn up redevelopment plans before the blueprint's release, he said, which included their own land valuations.

Valuations should take some post-blueprint factors into account, he said.

"You might own a bit of land on one side of Manchester St [in the frame] and they might compensate you at a certain level but you know that just over the other side of Manchester St suddenly that piece of land has [increased] in value.

"The remaining land in the inner city's spiralled in price so we're just left out in the cold."

Richard Peebles, who has up to 11 properties sought by the CCDU, yesterday received letters outlining plans for two of his properties in areas earmarked for the bus interchange and eastern frame.

He did not want to sell, having developed plans for the sites since the quakes, but did not want to "spend the rest of my life fighting".

"The [Government] decided, rightly or wrongly, that they're going to take 800 or 1000 sites and create a big park. I don't think you've got a lot of choice [about selling] really."

Peebles said he had heard "lots of scary stories" about the sums landowners were being offered. The per-square-metre values spoken about were between 20 and 40 per cent of the land's pre-quake worth, he said.

"I'm hoping for the best, but all the people I've spoken to that have been in negotiation have said the negotiations have been very hard, very aggressive and very low," Peebles said.

Lisle Hood, who owned four properties affected by the blueprint and had interests in about 10 others, was yet to meet the CCDU .

"I did say that I hoped they weren't going to insult me with some of the figures that I'd been hearing," he said.

Property magnate Antony Gough said central Christchurch land was not worth what it used to be, he said.

"We used to be able to build 20-storey buildings. The maximum I can build is seven now. There's been so much development out in the suburbs of office parks that we couldn't put. . . the same amount what was in the central city."

The Press