Land 'useless' after Government pulls out of south frame purchase, owner says

The Government has pulled out of buying an empty section at 109 Manchester St, previously a menswear store.
JOSEPH JOHNSON/STUFF

The Government has pulled out of buying an empty section at 109 Manchester St, previously a menswear store.

A Christchurch landowner says the Government has left him with useless land after pulling out of purchase negotiations for the city's planned south frame.

Almost all of the land surrounding the 200-square metre plot at 109 Manchester St now belongs to the Government.

Co-owner Warwick Darby said there was not anything useful he could build on the small section, which used to be part of a building housing a row of shops between Tuam St and St Asaph St.

A map of land ownership at the eastern end of the south frame development.
JOHN COWIE/STUFF

A map of land ownership at the eastern end of the south frame development.

"I've got 200sqm and my neighbour's got 120, and we're surrounded. There's nothing we can do with it."

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Darby's family operated a menswear store in the building before the Canterbury earthquakes.

The Crown owns almost all of the surrounding land.
JOSEPH JOHNSON/STUFF

The Crown owns almost all of the surrounding land.

In 2012, the Government designated the property as part of the south frame development – a public space with cycle lanes and walkways stretching from Montreal St to Manchester St.

It entered negotiations to compulsorily acquire the land in 2013.

Darby said the Government offered about $200,000. He believed the land was worth double that, but pushed for $300,000.

Land Information New Zealand (Linz) could not confirm the numbers.

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The Government abandoned the negotiations in late 2014 and gave him no explanation why, he said.

Linz Canterbury recovery group manager Jeremy Barr said the requirements changed as the south frame design was developed.

"The design changes meant that the Crown no longer required this property.

"As a sign of good faith, the Crown compensated the landowner for all legal costs incurred during the negotiations."

It was one of 28 south frame properties where the Government lifted designations because of high land prices.

Darby said it was "very unfair" to leave his property surrounded by Government land, especially given the "eyesore" of the Odeon Theatre propped up by containers on the corner of the block.

"I think ...not going through with their offer to buy the land is pretty mean."

The Government's interference limited options for entrepreneurs and stifled innovation in the city, he said.

He had tried to buy the neighbouring section, hoping the combined 320sqm would be more useful, but the owner had not engaged with him.

In the absence of a Government offer, Darby put the property on the open market and was waiting for a reasonable offer.

"I'd like to get value out of it," he said.

"I'm happy to sit on it; I don't need the money from it."

 - Stuff

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