$2.5m repairs to access 8 homes

MARC GREENHILL
Last updated 12:30 14/11/2012
Louise Litchfield
DON SCOTT/Fairfax NZ

TICKED OFF: Louise Litchfield's Mt Pleasant property is one of eight in Soleares Ave zoned green, but off-limits because of a damaged access lane. Residents are unable to return home because the city council has not agreed to repair the road.

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A decision on spending up to $2.5 million to repair 120 metres of road will determine the fate of eight Christchurch homes.

The lane connecting eight properties to Soleares Ave in Mt Pleasant became impassable because of several rockfalls after the February 2011 earthquake.

Damaged properties were green-zoned in December, but homeowners were unable to move back and were told by insurance firms that repairs could not begin until the road was fixed.

Homeowner Louise Litchfield told The Press in September that she and her neighbours felt "landlocked" because the Christchurch City Council disputed responsibility for the road until Mayor Bob Parker and Port Hills Labour MP Ruth Dyson intervened.

A feasibility report released this week offered three repair options, ranging in cost from $1.44m to $2.5m.

These were:

❏ Stabilising the rockface only.

❏ Cutting a new road into the rock.

❏ Building a steel and concrete bridge.

However, the council could give no assurances the work would be undertaken or provide a time frame for a decision.

Litchfield said yesterday that the report "left a lot of questions".

"They made no commitment to time frames. They just made no commitment at all,'' she said.

"We've said we're unhappy the report fails to indicate what their intentions are. We feel like we're hardly any further ahead at this stage."

With legal costs mounting, the group asked Dyson to advocate on its behalf.

Dyson sent the council "two A4-sized pages of questions" and a meeting was expected after the letter had been received.

"We're probably going to have to use our engineers to go over what the [council] are proposing to do to see if it meets our needs," Litchfield said.

"We're a long way from resolving this. It was just over a year ago since they turned our properties green and we started this process."

Council transport and greenspace unit acting manager Sally Davis said the issue was "complicated" because it included a private vehicle accessway and a public road.

It was not council policy to pay for the maintenance or repair of accessways to private properties.

"There are several dozen vehicle accessways to properties across the city which have been similarly affected as a result of the earthquakes," Davis said.

The council was still considering options outlined in the draft report and aimed to meet residents before Christmas, she said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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