Most Baker St residents want to see red
Christchurch Earthquake 2011
Residents of a liquefaction-hit Christchurch street are desperate for their land zoning to be reconsidered.
However, the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) says it is unlikely anything will change.
Seven houses in Baker St, New Brighton, were red-zoned after last year's quakes, but the other 169 houses in the street were marked green, meaning owners could repair or rebuild their homes on the same land.
The green-zoned houses were deemed to be technical category 3, meaning moderate to significant land damage from liquefaction was possible in future significant quakes.
Cera said last week that property owners had until June 30 to lodge an application if they wanted to query their land zoning.
Michelle O'Brien, who is still living in her damaged Baker St house, said the area met all of the Government's criteria for red-zoning. "There's an awful lot of money being spent on something that, to us, is really very obvious."
Cabinet papers outlining the criteria for remediating land said areas would be red-zoned if remediation was not cost-effective, disruptive for landowners, not timely or if the health or wellbeing of residents was at risk.
Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said on Friday that the zoning review would not revisit the criteria but would check whether they had been consistently applied and that boundary lines had been drawn sensibly.
A survey of 35 Baker St residents found 77 per cent wanted the entire street to be red-zoned. Nine per cent were undecided, while the rest did not want to be red-zoned.
Many residents had talked about feeling stressed about their situation, and some had suffered health problems since the quakes, including asthma, blood poisoning from infections and back pain from having to remove silt.
"I can't express how much of a relief [being red-zoned] would be, just so we can move on," O'Brien said.
She was concerned about losing amenities, such as bus routes, and said the street was "ugly and depressing".
She hoped the review would red-zone the street, but she was "not going to hold my breath".
"I've lost faith, to be quite frank, in the system," she said.
Baker St resident Aaron Neighbours said some people in his street were not waiting for the review and had already left.
"Living on the street was not a good place to be. I feel for the people who are stuck there."
He sent Cera a submission on behalf of the street's residents in January, and officials had initially seemed "actually quite positive" about it.
However, a letter sent to Neighbours from Cera chief executive Roger Sutton last month said it was unlikely anything would change.
"I must emphasise that changes to zoning are unlikely, and the checks will be based on the area-wide assessment of land damage in these areas," Sutton wrote.
Sutton told The Press in April that a huge amount of work had gone into deciding what properties were red-zoned, and there would be no changes.
However, a Cera spokeswoman said yesterday that the advisory group would consider all properties, including those in Baker St and those that were red-zoned.
The spokeswoman said Sutton's letter to Neighbours was intended to advise him not to expect a change "as a matter of course".
"We did not want to get people's hopes up or lead them to expect that their zoning would change, with the result that they stop working on their repairs or rebuilding," she said.
Christchurch East Labour MP Lianne Dalziel said she had been writing to Prime Minister John Key and Brownlee about the zoning issues for months.
She thought the zoning review was "a cruel hoax" and doubted anything would change.
"Everything's been behind closed doors. All they've done is add one person from outside [Cera]," she said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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