Expert bewildered by Crown's pursuit of Christchurch's south frame

A new gathering space in the innovation precinct, which comprises part of the wider south frame.
SUPPLIED

A new gathering space in the innovation precinct, which comprises part of the wider south frame.

Private negotiations between the Crown and central city businesses appear to be holding up plans to acquire the last plots of land sought for Christchurch's south frame anchor project.

The Crown says it has just 4000 square metres of land left to acquire, after spending the last four years spending $25 million buying up 25,000sqm for the shrinking anchor project.

The project, containing laneways and public spaces, was designed to frame the core of the city, along with the east frame and north frames and Avon River precinct

The Crown has acquired 25,000 square metres for the south frame, leaving 4000sqm yet to be acquired.
SUPPLIED

The Crown has acquired 25,000 square metres for the south frame, leaving 4000sqm yet to be acquired.

It covers the three blocks linking the innovation and health precincts, bordered by St Asaph, Tuam, Manchester and Montreal streets. 

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Otakaro Limited has confirmed designations covering much of the south frame land remained relaxed, with south frame designation fully, or partially, lifted on 54 per cent of properties initially in the plan. 

Hamish Doig: "What surprises me [is] that they're continuing to pursue it."
DON SCOTT/FAIRFAX NZ

Hamish Doig: "What surprises me [is] that they're continuing to pursue it."

Colliers International's Christchurch managing director, Hamish Doig, did not understand why the Crown continued to pursue land for the project, labelling the south frame a "folly".

An Otakaro spokesman said talks with a "range of landowners" were ongoing, but refused to comment further or provide further details because of the "commercial nature" of the discussions.

"The south frame will be delivered in stages as land is acquired for the laneways and public spaces.

"In many cases only a portion of a parcel of land will be required for the south frame public realm," he said.

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The total area to be acquired would depend on what was worked out with landowners.

The Crown aimed to finish the bulk of the south frame by the end of 2017 and $20m would be spent developing it.

Doig said he was not surprised negotiations had taken four years, but he was surprised the Crown continued to acquire land for the south frame.

"What surprises me [is] that they're continuing to pursue it.

"I think the whole idea of laneways through the southern frame and through the Health Precinct is an absolutely flawed concept," Doig said.

The project would have some merit if there was "connectivity" between the blocks earmarked for development.

"So you've got this swathe of lanes through the middle of the blocks . . . Colombo St, Durham St, Montreal St and you have to walk up to the lights to to actually go across at a controlled intersection.

"One thing I do know is that basically we humans are lazy, we're going to take the course of least resistance, so why wouldn't we walk down the footpath rather than walk through a lane?

"It just seems an absolutely flawed way to commute . . . I just don't understand it," Doig said.

But the idea of laneways through the retail precinct was "inspired" and "has a function".

The first gathering spaces in the innovation precinct and wider south frame are finished, with Otakaro completing areas in Vanguard Square, Nurseryman Lane, Poplar St and Ash St.

The area is bordered by Lichfield, Madras, Tuam and High streets.

"These new public areas are not only places to relax but they can also cater for public events such as markets, food stalls and outdoor dining," chief executive Albert Brantley said.

"They will become great spots to meet and to enjoy the city."

Stuff understands some car dealerships in the area are among those still negotiating compensation for their land with the Crown. 

Owners of Cockram Motor Company and Team Hutchinson Ford have criticised the south frame anchor project and the Crown's acquisition process in the past, but did not wish to comment on Tuesday.

In 2015, Angus Cockram said his company had been in negotiations for years, but had never received an offer.

Land Information New Zealand (Linz) Crown Property deputy chief executive Brian Usherwood said the 25,000sqm acquired and 4000sqm yet to be acquired did not include land relating to the innovation and health precincts.

Linz Canterbury Recovery group manager Jeremy Barr said achieving a negotiated outcome could take time.

It could require specialist advice depending on the complexity of the transaction, he said.

Linz had not experienced more or less difficulty in acquiring land compared with any other land acquisition projects it administered since taking on this role this year.

SHRINKING SOUTH FRAME

As of 2015 designation has been partially or fully removed from 60 properties in the south frame project, the relaxed designations remain in place:

- 28 properties no longer designated in the south frame

- 25 properties in the innovation precinct 

- Seven properties in the health precinct

 - Stuff

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