Member log in

Christchurch Three Years On: City on cusp of tangible development – Sutton

This is a big year for Christchurch with the certainty of tangible development, according to the chief executive of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority Roger Sutton.

In construction circles alone a total of 7400 new jobs were created in the year to December September 2013.

During the same period Statistics NZ reports 7600 new jobs were created in retail trade, accommodation and food services, “and a lot of that is driven by the constant renewal of retail and hospitality services in the city”.

The Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team (SCIRT) has 119 projects worth $594 million underway, and 321 projects have been completed.

So far, 44 kilometres of fresh water pipes, 258 kilometres of wastewater pipes and 14 kilometres of storm water pipes have been laid. And more than a quarter of the damage to roads has been repaired.

As the final settlement day is reached for flat land residential red zone property owners, a significant milestone can be marked in the recovery, Mr Sutton says.

In total, 7349 properties were zoned red due to the level of land damage caused by the earthquakes. 

Since the first red zone areas were announced in 2011, thousands of property owners have accepted the Crown offer and moved out of the worst affected areas to start afresh.

“Today is a day of mixed emotions,” Mr Sutton says. “Although we will always reflect on what we have lost and how much has changed, the end of the flat land zoning process shows how far we have come. It is heartening to know so many of the people worst affected by the earthquakes have been able to start over in their new neighbourhoods.”

About 70 property owners have indicated they are unable to meet the settlement date they originally selected and advised Cera they will not be moving today as planned. As their agreements are legally binding contracts, penalty interest fees are being charged unless extenuating circumstances warrant these fees to be waived.

By the time all flat land settlements are completed, nearly $1.5 billion will have been spent by the Crown to buy the properties.

Mr Sutton reiterates that the cost of maintaining the infrastructure in the residential red zone to homes where owners have not accepted the offer, or do not move today as agreed, is not viable long term. 

Statistics collected by Cera and the city council with the help of Statistics NZ, show most people have chosen to stay in the region, often moving just a suburb or two away. “What we now know is the majority of residential red zone property owners were able to stay close to their neighbourhoods. Based on Census 2013 information, over half of all movements by people in areas with high earthquake damage were within just four kilometres.“

Read: the rest of the Christchurch Three Years On feature stories here