New land valuations are evidence government policy, not the earthquakes, has made land in Christchurch's residential red zone almost worthless, affected landowners say.
Red-zone land took a significant hit when the Christchurch City Council yesterday released its first updated rateable values (RV) since 2007.
Written-off land was treated as "unsuitable for residential occupation", with most properties valued at less than $50,000.
In some cases, neighbouring green-zoned properties jumped in value by more than $100,000.
Andrea Newman, the owner of a red-zoned Port Hills vacant section, said the large fluctuations between adjacent red and green properties were proof zoning decisions had stripped the value, not earthquake damage.
Vacant and uninsured land owners had been offered Crown purchase offers at 50 per cent of 2007 RV, but argued it should be 100 per cent in line with other red-zone offers.
Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee believed the offer was fair because quake damage had reduced values to as little as 10 per cent of those pre-quake.
Two neighbouring sections in Hillsborough, both red until the Port Hills zoning review in December turned one green, now had values $176,000 apart after being just $7000 apart in 2007.
"This just highlights a stronger argument for why it was the zoning policy itself that caused the loss in value," Newman said.
Vacant sections in the Port Hills had sustained no land damage, she said.
"What other factors have contributed to this massive reduction? There is only one conclusion you can draw."
Brooklands red-zoner Stephen Bourke was bemused to learn his property's value had dropped $236,000 and a property two doors down by $154,000, while the green-zoned property between the two, owned by his parents, rose by $106,000.
His two adjoining vacant sections each dropped from $155,000 to $17,000.
The prospect of reduced rates was little comfort, Bourke said.
"Just because [Government] has zoned it red, I don't know what gives [the council] the power to physically drop our value.
"They may say our land is damaged, well, come out and prove it."
Geotechnical reports had determined the land condition was no worse than much more valuable TC3 land, he said.
The council said valuing the land as rural was a common approach when there was "little market" for it.
"A premium was then applied, taking into account the city location and the possibility the land could in future be suitable for residential occupation if mass land remediation is undertaken," it said.
Brownlee was unavailable for comment last night.
RATES QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Q: How much has council budgeted for rates to increase?
A: Residential ratepayers will face an average increase of 6.5 per cent from July.
Q: Is this, on average, how much rates will go up?
Q: What does your valuation mean when it comes to rates?
A: Rating valuations determine how rates are distributed. If your value has gone up by less than the city-wide average, your rates should go up by less than most people's, and may even fall. If your property value has gone up by more than the average, then your rates will probably rise by more. Rates bills also include fixed charges for services spread evenly across all city properties.
Q: How have values changed?
A: The city's average home valuation has risen 16.2 per cent.
Q: What about damaged homes?
A: Properties were valued as if undamaged or repaired.
Q: Are there any rebates?
A: Owners of homes that cannot be lived in due to quake damage may qualify for a rates rebate, as do low-income earners.
Q: What can unhappy property owners do?
A: Owners can appeal their rating valuation within six weeks, but not on quake damage.
- The Press