Social housing repairs unlikely to be delayed

SAM SACHDEVA
Last updated 05:00 12/05/2012

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Negotiations on a multimillion-dollar payout for Christchurch's earthquake-hit social housing stock will not slow down repair work, the city council says.

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said last month that the Earthquake Commission (EQC) had agreed to pay the council $21 million to repair 280 quake-damaged social housing units.

Brownlee said the settlement was among a range of measures to deal with rental housing problems.

However, the council yesterday said the settlement was not a done deal, with negotiations over the total size of the payout yet to occur.

Community services general manager Michael Aitken said the council was still waiting to receive more information from the EQC on what the settlement covered.

The settlement could not become "full and final" until the council had a chance to review the information, he said.

"We're still waiting for that to come through so we can say: `Look, all right, that's fine, let's recommend to council to accept it', or: `Look, no, that's not enough' ... and just sort it out."

Potential areas of disagreement could include the valuation of repair work or the omission of any buildings, Aitken said.

He believed the negotiations would not lead to significant delays in repair work.

"There's a strong level of commitment from all parts to bring this to a pretty rapid conclusion. We're not standing around with our arms crossed."

The council would use the money it had already received to start repairing its social housing before dealing with "the outstanding bits around the edges" later.

Aitken said he expected "significant progress" to be made by the end of next week.

The council had started assessing its social housing blocks and developing repair options, he said.

EQC policy and legal strategy general manager Bryan Dunne said it had made an "interim payment" of $23m so repairs could start.

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- The Press

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