Sutton warns of compulsory acquisition

MARC GREENHILL AND LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 13:15 21/03/2013
Sutton and Isaacs
FILE IMAGE

MIXED: Warwick Isaacs and Roger Sutton.

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Landowners in central Christchurch retail precincts have been warned to speed up negotiations or face compulsory acquisition. 

Speaking at today's Seismics and the City event, Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) chief executive Roger Sutton said landowner negotiations for the precincts were "taking longer than we prefer". 

Developers and landowners this month called for the Government to resolve the impasse on the City Mall site, the centre of a battle for control.

"We're looking at options very carefully about what we will do if those discussions take too much longer," Sutton said. 

"We don't wake up in the morning wanting to use our special powers to go and acquire land and amalgamate titles, but we are clear that if necessary we will use them to make sure things really start to happen." 

The central city plan had the "bones of a great plan" and work on the outskirts of the central business district was progressing well, he said. 

Meanwhile, Warwick Isaacs, who is the head of the Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU), told Christchurch City councillors the land acquisition programme for anchor projects was ''going very well''. 

Addressing councillors at their monthly earthquake forum, Isaacs said that 70 properties had been acquired on a ''willing seller, willing buyer'' basis. 

Those 70 properties represented about 27 per cent of the total land required by the Crown for the anchor projects. 

To date there had been no need to go down the compulsory acquisition route, which he was pleased about. 

Isaacs also talked up the interest from private investors in being part of the city's rebuild. 

Asked by Cr Claudia Reid what evidence there was to support Government claims that the anchor projects would drive private investment around the city, Isaacs said that was clearly happening in the retail precinct, where several developers were ''jostling for position''. 

The convention centre was also generating interest from the private sector. 

''There are a number of conversations going on with hoteliers who want to be part of that development,'' Isaacs said. 

There was also a lot of interest from the private sector in the health precinct. 

Speakers at the second annual Seismics and the City forum, with the theme When a City Rises, included Mayor Bob Parker, Ngai Tahu chairman Sir Mark Solomon, Canterbury Development Corporation chief executive Tom Hooper, Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce chief executive Peter Townsend and The Press editor Joanna Norris.

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