Ruling over 'unlawful' buyouts upheld

MARC GREENHILL
Last updated 13:13 03/12/2013
Gerry Brownlee
FIGHTING BACK: Gerry Brownlee immediately announced plans to appeal after the initial High Court ruling.

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Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee says he is ''very pleased'' the Court of Appeal has found the red-zoning of damaged Christchurch land was lawful.

In August, the 68-strong Quake Outcasts group and Fowler Developments Ltd won a judicial review of the Government's offer to buy uninsured properties and empty sections at 50 per cent of the land valuation.

High Court Justice Graham Panckhurst ruled the offer was unlawful and should be revised, and deemed the red zoning itself unlawful.

Brownlee immediately announced plans to appeal the original ruling.

In a judgment released today, the Court of Appeal backed Justice Panckhurst's ruling on the 50 per cent offers, but disagreed that the creation of the red zone was unlawful.

The court ruled the Crown offers be revised.

Brownlee said he was pleased the appeal court found the process was lawful and ''well conducted''.

"We also accept the court's view that in relation to vacant and uninsured improved properties on the flat land in Christchurch we now need to review whether our earlier decisions were consistent with the purpose of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act,'' he said.

"We will develop a process for that review over the coming days and will then submit it to the court . . . before any further consideration proceeds."

The finding means results of the Port Hills zoning review, which had been delayed for several months, will be released before the end of the week.

The owners of vacant and uninsured Port Hills land would not receive Crown offers until the judicial process was complete, Brownlee said.

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