'The frame' in place by 2013

TAMLYN STEWART
Last updated 15:00 31/07/2012
Richard Peebles
SHOCKED: Developer Richard Peebles.

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Prime Minister John Key will not say how long the Government will negotiate with landowners before triggering compulsory acquisition in Christchurch, but  today signalled he wanted to see ''the frame'' in place by early 2013.

The frame wraps around central Christchurch to the east and south and will affect more than 800 properties.

"It's a little bit early. We are not trying to hold a gun to their head; we are trying to get a good outcome for Christchurch. And we will certainly be working alongside them and hopefully will reach a resolution ," Key said today on his way into Parliament.

"In the fullness of time we will act if we have to, but our preference is to do it by negotiation. By the end of this year, early next year, we would like to be in a position to have the frame in place."

He said some property owners stood to benefit from what was happening.

Asked if there was anything the Government could do to speed up insurance settlements and work for those in blue-green (technical category 3) areas, he said the Government was looking closely at the issue.

"It's very, very complex. We are doing the best we can but I just can't make guarantees," he said.

"You have seen [Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister] Gerry Brownlee has tried to push the insurance sector along. You have a situation where there are well over 600,000 claims now.

''There are only about 190,000 households, but there are multiple claims.  There are different issues in terms of reinsurers, so there's a lot of complexity to all that."

He said five to eight-year delays in insurance settlements, cited by some residents, were "unacceptably long".

"I think the minister has [told insurance companies that] in not so many words," he said.

Developer in 'total shock'

A leading Christchurch property developer was left in "total shock" last night as the new central plan impacts on all but one of his sites.

Speaking shortly after the unveiling of Christchurch Central Development Unit's (CCDU) plan, Richard Peebles told The Press he was more than disappointed.

"It's very bold and very visionary, but personally it has taken all of my sites,'' he said.

"I'm just disappointed I'm losing all my sites."

Peebles lost 24 buildings in the earthquakes, mostly central-city heritage buildings, but already had projects under way to replace half of those lost.

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Property owner Craig Nicholas was also affected by the plan.

His properties at 26 Lichfield St and 111 Tuam St fall within the planned emergency services precinct, where he had planned to redevelop.

"They won't be able to resolve that process without buying people out,'' he said.

"What that process is I don't know, of course."

He said he had not seen anything in the plan that would deter him from proceeding with redevelopment plans for a 1000-square-metre site opposite Ballantynes.

Developer Ernest Duval, who owns the Pacific Tower in Gloucester St, said he was impressed with the plan.

"It provides certainty and a very solid framework for the city going forward."

He said the convention centre and the stadium were "well-placed".

"There's going to be quite an array of key entertainment-type facilities clustered around the Square, which I think will be quite good for the life and vibrancy of the city."

The rules on how that land will be amalgamated, and how the compensation packages will be delivered, had yet to be fully resolved, but the CCDU had said it would contact individual owners and start the consultation process, he said.

Duval was confident the necessary investment would flow into the city.

"I'm quite certain we'll see a lot of investment occur. There'll be investment from existing property owners, from people throughout the country and I'd say even investment from overseas," he said.

Property owner and businessman Stephen Collins said the plan was exciting, although "the devil's in the detail".

His property investments were affected by the plan but he he did not think the city could move forward without some land amalgamations.

"Everyone is very conscious that it's important for Christchurch. We've got to go forward and we can't do it with lots of little bits of land," he said.

- The Press

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