Decisions urged on future of red zone

MARC GREENHILL
Last updated 05:00 25/11/2013

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Christchurch Earthquake 2011

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Decisions on the future of Christchurch's residential red zone are needed within the next 12 months to kick-start recovery in the city's east, a group backing river park plans says.

Authorities have yet to decide the future of the written-off land but Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee this month told a rebuild and recovery forum he would be keen to run a public campaign to get the community's input on its future.

The Avon-Otakaro Network (AvON) wants to see the land, which covers an area about four times the size of Hagley Park, become a publicly-owned ecological and recreation reserve, linking the river precinct in the central city to the coast.

AvON co-chairman Evan Smith backed the idea of consultation, but said a long-term vision should be defined "at least within a year's time . . . if not before then".

"The worst possible outcome is for a degree of uncertainty to continue long term. I wouldn't like us to still be in this position in 10 years time, not knowing what's going to happen to that [red zone] land," he said.

"It's impossible for the east to recover without some long-term uses being defined."

Brownlee said this month it was "highly unlikely" red-zoned land would be sold back for residential purposes "at any point".

It was possible that some of it would form part of a new flood protection system.

"It could become a huge amenity for the city and could also be used to enhance the residential areas that remain out there by protecting them against flood risk," he said.

AvON's concept planning was "still in its infancy", but Smith said a lot of consultation work had been done.

"There's a lot of proposals there that [the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority] are certainly aware of . . . it doesn't mean to say that more can't happen. The critical step now is seeing how all those bits of the jigsaw might be able to be fitted together."

He believed the process should be community-driven, rather than the public having input only.

"The Government's making noises, the council's making noises, but nothing's concrete yet in terms of what that might mean, so we're just doing our own thing."

However, the group was still in talks with Cera.

In October, the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal Trust committed $15 million towards projects that will connect the city centre to the sea with a park along the Avon River.

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- The Press

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