Red-zoned section owners 'stuck in middle of nowhere'
Glenn Mackle is clinging to an asset he fears could be worthless.
The Brooklands landowner has set up house in a caravan on his vacant section after being dealt an earthquake land-zoning blow.
His suburb was essentially wiped off the map in November when more than 400 properties were red-zoned. A further 70 had been written off last June.
He was not entitled to a Government offer because there was no insurance or Earthquake Commission cover on land without a dwelling.
Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee has been non-committal about compensation for owners of red-zoned vacant land.
Mackle had been deciding on house plans when the September 2010 quake hit. He was revising those plans for greater quake resilience when the region was hit again five months later.
"My intention was always to build, but I was basically waiting, firstly to see if the earthquakes would settle down, and also I knew there was going to be changes to the requirements for foundation design. Of course, I never got that far."
Mackle was trying to be "optimistic" before the zoning decision, but now feared the worst.
"All my money is tied up in that [section]. I very much doubt the bank would see me as a good bet with all my capital in a bit of worthless land," he said.
"They're not going to give me $200,000 for the top-up to buy a section."
He could camp on the section long term because his self-contained caravan did not need water, sewerage or an electricity supply, which would probably be cut off after the area had emptied.
"It's nicer to have the services, but [the caravan] has a chemical toilet and a tank with a pump, so you can take water off a roof or something," Mackle said.
A spokesman for Brownlee said the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority was "looking at options" for the uninsured.
Mackle said the issue should be dealt with in a "reasonable time frame" because section prices had skyrocketed.
"What's that going to be? A year, two years? The people who are settling now can basically pick all the good [sections] and there may not be too many options by the time they get around to us ..."
The legislation amounted to land confiscation, he said.
"I fail to see anything right about that, other than you have to be accounted for. Morally, and from a human rights point of view, it should be dealt with," Mackle said.
Don Francis and Michael Petherick had a permit to build on their vacant Brooklands section at the time of the 2010 quake.
The lack of communication was frustrating, Francis said. "It's having a serious impact on our families. We just want to move forward.
"They've red-zoned it and we're basically stuck in the middle of nowhere."
The keen fishermen chose the spot because it was close to the lagoon.
"If [the Government] are not going to relieve me of it, I'm certainly going to use it during the summer months. I'm not sure how that fits with their plans of what they want to do with it," Petherick said.
"If they put a golf course there, I hope the green's on my piece of land. I'll pitch my tent on it."
He hoped common sense would prevail.
"I expect that if they take the land from us or deny us access, they would have to make some payment. It would just be stealing the land," Petherick said.