Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee slates Breathe Urban Village

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee has slated the eco-friendly urban village project, Breathe.

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee has slated the eco-friendly urban village project, Breathe.

A $30 million urban village planned for central Christchurch "should never have started in the first place", Gerry Brownlee says.

Construction of the Breathe residential development was due to start in April, but the developers have not yet applied for building consents and there has been no news on the project for months.

Brownlee, who is the Earthquake Recovery Minister, criticised the the eco-friendly, timber-clad village project on Newstalk ZB Friday morning.

An artist's impression of the winning Breathe Urban Village design.
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An artist's impression of the winning Breathe Urban Village design.

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"I think it's going to struggle to get off the ground ... I'm very disappointed that people who said they would do something are not going to do it."

He said he was "probably going to get in trouble" for giving his personal opinion, but it was frustrating to "take the flak" for the project's delays when the people behind it did not deliver what they promised.

He also said the project had "nothing to do" with the government and was the developer's responsibility.

The development is an anchor project and features on the recovery blueprint.

The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) last week said Breathe was "continuing, with the Christchurch Central Development Unit still considering issues relating to the project before any final arrangements are reached with the developer".

Breathe developer Ian Smart in February quashed rumours the Breathe Urban Village might not go ahead, promising details about the project would be announced soon.

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The site – almost 1 hectare of land opposite Latimer Sq and once home to Charlie's Backpackers — remains bare and the Christchurch City Council said Tuesday it had not received any building consent applications for the project yet.

Under a recent change to the City Plan, the development was considered a permitted activity so no resource consent was required, except for the unit title subdivision, a council spokeswoman said.

The $30m project, designed by Italian company Anselmi Attiani Associated Architects, won the international competition Breathe in 2013.

It features on the recovery blueprint was hailed as the catalyst for other residential developments within the four avenues.

Information about the  design project has been scarce since the competition winners were announced in 2013.

Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU) acting Director Baden Ewart said the CCDU was "still considering matters relating to the project before any final arrangements are reached with the developer".

"Once those matters are worked through, more information will be made available."

The project originally priced three bedroom homes for $900,000, but Smart last year reduced the price to $630,000.

The company behind the development was originally Riccarton-based Holloway Builders.

Smart, who was a partner in Holloway Builders formed his own company Breathe Ltd in November 2013, the month after the competition's winners were announced.

The Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU) is considering issues relating to the project before any final arrangements are reached with the developer.

 - Stuff

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