Brooklands off the map

Christchurch's suburb of Brooklands will effectively disappear, after more than 400 properties were put into the red zone.

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee yesterday announced that 417 properties in the Waimakariri river-mouth suburb in northeastern Christchurch had been rezoned from orange to red, meaning their quake-damaged land was uneconomic to repair.

About 70 properties at the southern end of Brooklands were red-zoned in June.

Brownlee also confirmed 341 properties across Christchurch and Kaiapoi would go from orange to green.

They are scattered across Avonside, Dallington, Linwood, Woolston, Parklands, Burwood, South New Brighton and western Kaiapoi. All have been put into the Department of Building and Housing's technical category 3, or "blue-green", meaning rebuilt or substantially repaired houses would need improved foundations.

Pockets of orange-zoned homes, totalling 908 properties, remain in Avonside, Richmond, Wainoni, Dallington, Burwood, Southshore and Linwood.

The Government also announced 8300 non-residential properties around Christchurch's previously unmapped white zone had been classified green, including commercial and industrial buildings, government-owned properties and community buildings, such as halls and churches.

Brownlee said the decision to zone all of Brooklands red was not taken lightly.

"I know this decision will be quite distressing for a number of people and I appreciate the feelings that they'll have.

"But I am confident we are making the right decision for the future of those landowners and their families."

The land remediation costs for the suburb were huge and would be "like creating a new subdivision", he said.

"Brooklands residents would have to spend a significant amount of time off their properties as roading was put back in, along with all the other horizontal infrastructure, the land was resurveyed and the sections handed back.

"We know that that would be time-consuming, very expensive and extremely intrusive into [their] lives."

Land would have had to be raised between 600 millimetres and 900mm and some perimeter wall treatment would have been needed northwest of the area.

"You basically have to wipe the land bare [to remediate it] ," Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority chief executive Roger Sutton said.

"You can't leave a tree standing."

The remediation could have taken four or five years, he said, and residents would have been "back to square one" when they returned.

About half Brooklands' pre-quake population still lived in the suburb and received hand-delivered letters about the rezoning yesterday. Community meetings would follow.

"This is going to be hard news for a lot of people out there. It's important to talk to those people face-to-face so they can understand what it means for them," Sutton said.

Brownlee yesterday defended the time it had taken to reach a decision on Brooklands' fate.

New land information had to be gathered as the Christchurch City Council had been given incorrect information in the past.

"That information had to be recalibrated so it could be compared appropriately with the more recently gathered information.

"We've made every effort to look at remediation options but in the end it became a pretty difficult course to even consider."

He hoped decisions on the remaining 900 orange-zone properties could be made before Christmas.

"We would expect to have most of those decisions by at least February, but I would hope much sooner, and I stress much sooner."

The Press