'Lack of detail' in port fast-track announcement
Years will be shaved off Lyttelton Port's $1 billion redevelopment after the Government stepped in to fast-track plans.
Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee yesterday announced he had directed Environment Canterbury (ECan) and Lyttelton Port of Christchurch (LPC) to develop a recovery plan, which would sidetrack the standard Resource Management Act (RMA) process.
"There have been no decisions made on how the port should be redeveloped, but I have determined that a recovery plan is the best tool for timely redevelopment to be achieved," he said.
"Lyttelton Port needs certainty about repairing, rebuilding and reconfiguring its operations, and this plan will deliver that."
The port last year announced an insurance payout settlement of $438 million, and its redevelopment included a $465m reinstatement over five years related to earthquake damage.
A further $400m to $500m would be spent on port development, including adding public spaces such as cafes, expanding Cashin Quay and continuing a land reclamation project.
LPC chief executive Peter Davie said without having to go through the standard RMA process, the port could fast-track expansion plans.
"If we were to go through normal consenting process, and we need over 100 consents to rebuild and develop the port, it could take anywhere from five to 10 years to do," he said.
Both the port and ECan would be required to consult the community as the plan was developed.
Davie said the port would start its public consultation project as early as next week.
The port would still have to apply for the consents but it would "be in a framework that is sympathetic towards them".
"It was worrying us because we want to rebuild a port but it might have taken us 10 years to get all the consents, that's not a good position," he said.
"This enables us to talk to all affected parties in one hit."
Labour's earthquake recovery spokeswoman and Port Hills MP Ruth Dyson welcomed a clear vision for the port's repair and rebuild, but said there was a lack of detail in Brownlee's announcement.
She hoped any "contentious areas" would be discussed publicly and the opinions of Lyttelton residents and the wider Christchurch community taken into account.
ECan chair of commissioners Dame Margaret Bazley said the regional council was "pleased to be asked to lead the development" of the recovery plan.
The Christchurch City Council said it was "in principle, supportive of this move".
Banks Peninsula Cr Andrew Turner said it was "early days", but he believed there would be some "win-wins" for the port and the community.
"I'm also expecting that this represents a very good opportunity for the port to be positively engaging with the Lyttelton harbour community."
Lyttelton-Mt Herbert Community Board chairwoman Paula Smith hoped consultation would be "meaningful" and residents' views taken into account as plans were made.
The community had concerns about heavy vehicles on Norwich Quay and the lack of public access to the inner harbour waterfront, creating a "sort of disconnect" between the town and the waterfront. It also wanted to make sure the Diamond Harbour Ferry would be retained as a "seamless link" between the two sides of the harbour, Smith said.