Up to 840 properties may be bought

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 18:00 30/07/2012
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As many as 840 properties will need to be purchased to turn the government's plans for rebuilding Christchurch's city centre into reality.

The properties need to be bought up in order to clear space for the city's new ''frame'' and the other anchor projects included in the 100-day blueprint.

The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) is hoping to acquire most of the properties on a ''willing seller, willing buyer'' basis but says it will move to compulsorily acquire them if need be.

It is unwilling to speculate on exactly how much that will cost.

The properties identified as being needed for the central business district (CBD) rebuild will have a designation slapped on them by Cera within the next couple of weeks.

That designation will remain in place for the next 10 years, although Cera hopes to have negotiations with affected land owners completed within a five year period.

One of the effects of the designation is that present owners will not be able to alter the way their land is used without the consent of the Earthquake Recovery Minister .

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said that prices for all land acquisitions in the central city would be based on market values at the date the land was acquired.

This differs from the government's approach in the residential red zone where offers have been based on rateable values.

Brownlee said the different approach in the CBD reflected the highly variable nature of inner city land.

''We have had a team of valuers look at how you determine values in these circumstances. There have been some sales of land in the central city so we have a little bit of information to work on. You have to try and be fair to people but the harsh reality is there is virtually no value there until something like this comes along and things start to happen,'' Brownlee said.

While the Crown had the power to compulsorily acquire land under the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act, the preference was to negotiate . That settlement could possibly include land swaps.

Brownlee said because of the tight timelines required for the rebuild, the first steps toward compulsory purchase would be taken this year but that would not preclude settlements being reached with land owners.

Brownlee refused to be drawn on how much the land acquisitions could end up costing.

''I'm not putting the figure we have in mind out there - I don't think it would be fair to all parties.''

Brownlee said that commercial sensitivities meant that it had not been possible for Cera's Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU) to start negotiations with land owners during its 100-day work programme.

"Now that the locations and scope of the anchor projects and precincts have been confirmed, it is clear some large parcels of land are required for very different uses than their present ones.''

KPI Rothschild Property Group managing director Shaun Stockman is among those affected by the new designations.

He said ideally he would have liked to have developed the land himself but he was relaxed about the government taking it over, although they had yet to talk numbers.

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''I'm very confident the Government is going to be fair in its dealings. I don't have any concerns,'' he said.

 

- © Fairfax NZ News

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