Slow progress on land buy-up for Christchurch's south frame project
No more whole properties are needed to complete Christchurch's south frame project, but Crown progress buying the land needed is slow.
The Crown has bought 2.5 hectares of the 2.9ha it needs to build the frame – effectively a network of lanes and small squares in the three blocks bordered by Tuam, St Asaph, Manchester and Montreal streets.
The original plan was for south frame buildings to be set in a park-like environment with a walkway and cycleway between them. The public space has now been cut down to an east-west "greenway" running along the back of existing businesses, a pedestrian and cycle corridor with public seating, planting and squares. Smaller lanes running north-south will connect the greenway to Tuam and St Asaph streets.
Land Information New Zealand (Linz) – the government agency handling land purchases for the rebuild, said 0.4ha was still to be bought. This land consists of strips to be subdivided from bigger properties that will be used to form laneways.
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It is understood some of the land negotiations have become protracted.
The Crown has spent about $32 million on buying South Frame land to date. Crown company Otakaro has spent a further $13m constructing the public spaces there.
Otakaro chief executive Albert Brantley said in January that the Crown intended to work hard this year to get the land purchases sorted as quickly as possible.
The Mollet St greenway and Matai Common between Colombo and Durham streets opened last month, and stretches of the lane linking Colombo St to the innovation precinct are being built.
Yet to be touched is the block between Durham and Montreal streets, where some of the designated lanes will run through existing buildings, including vehicle dealerships.
Most of the land in this block is in the hands of three owners – Garry Donnithorne and Gary Cockram, both of whom have several properties and family-owned car dealerships in the block, and Christ's College.
Land will also be needed to extend the greenway into the health precinct in the next block west.
At the eastern end of the south frame the greenway will run through the premises of another car dealership, Team Hutchinson Ford, owned by Wellington-based Colonial Motor Company.
Construction of the south frame is not expected to be finished until 2019. An Otakaro spokesman said it would be completed as land became available.
The anchor project will link the innovation and health precincts. Along with the east frame and Avon River it will contain a more condensed central city.
From the 51 properties originally designated for Crown purchase for the south frame alone (excluding the health and innovation precincts), 28 had had their designations lifted by 2015 and one more was in the process of being lifted.
Linz's Canterbury Recovery group manager, Jeremy Barr, said needing less land was a good outcome.
Barr confirmed partial sites were needed, not full titles. Linz was negotiating with owners and these negotiations were confidential and commercially sensitive, he said.