Orange zone gone but some still in limbo

PRESS REPORTERS
Last updated 05:00 19/05/2012

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Christchurch no longer has an orange zone.

A major land rezoning yesterday meant all the flat land in the city has been classified red or green, although the owners of nearly 1700 Port Hills homes remain in limbo.

More than 400 long-suffering Southshore residents finally learned their fate.

One hundred and ninety-eight of the 401 properties closest to the Avon-Heathcote Estuary were red-zoned and the remaining 203 declared Technical Category (TC) 3-green, meaning their land is considered the most badly quake-damaged able to be economically repaired.

Parklands East residents failed to convince the Government to rezone their homes red, with their properties staying TC3-green.

In the Port Hills, 421 properties joined the green zone but a further 1679 were in the white zone where more geotechnical work had to be done.

The decisions mean 7256 properties are now in the red zone and subject to a Government offer to buy them.

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee acknowledged the gravity of yesterday's announcement:

"As I've said in recent months, the decisions have been anything but easy as we've progressed towards the end, but the issues have fundamentally remained the same."

Brownlee said officials had been "50-50" on whether the Southshore land could be remediated, but there had been too many concerns about the cost and whether it would work.

"It's that nagging uncertainty about the effectiveness of it that in the end persuaded us to make a purchase of-fer."

He was more definitive about the decision to keep Parklands East green, saying it was "really not close".

"If we'd said to people that Parklands is now red-zoned, we would be changing track on our criteria so severely that we would be telling huge parts of the rest of Christchurch that they're in the same situation."

Brownlee said officials were still on target to meet a June 30 deadline for the remaining white zone properties in the Port Hills.

Labour's earthquake recovery spokeswoman, Lianne Dalziel, said the announcements would receive a range of responses from affected residents.

"They will be devastating to some, a welcome relief, and an open relief to another group.

"Mixed emotions are the order of the day."

Dalziel said delays in zoning announcements had caused "considerable anguish" to residents affected by earthquakes.

Christchurch City councillor Glenn Livingstone, who represents the Burwood-Pegasus ward, said many residents in Southshore and Parklands would be "grieving" after the decisions.

"Probably in Parklands, a lot of people will be hacked off, but some people will be relieved." Hagley-Ferrymead councillor Yani Johanson said the Government needed to ensure that remaining Port Hills residents were informed of their fate as quickly as possible.

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"I cannot understand why it's taken so long to make decisions on the no-brainers that need to be written off."

Southshore resident Clare Collins was devastated that her home was zoned green. The houses across the road from her home were zoned red.

"I just can't believe it. It is the worst scenario possible. All our neighbours are going to go and they are the reason we live here," she said.

"It is just going to take so long. It will be years before anything happens for us."

Darryl Sutton's property, on the estuary front in Southshore, was zoned red. Sutton is now considering leaving the city. "Christchurch is not a great option," he said.

"The ongoing threat of quakes and land values falling, I would have to question why I would spend the same kind of money all over again if we are going to have quakes for the next 10 years."

In the Port Hills, Sumner resident Kirsty Ruepell said being rezoned green was a "huge relief" but she felt for white-zoned neighbours.

"It affects a lot of our friends and it's pretty grim for them."

- The Press

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