Christchurch council plan thrown out

Brownlee announces new rebuilding tsar.

No more $500 million light rail schemes or reverting one-way streets to two-way at a cost of $91 million.

Today, Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee ditched the Christchurch City Council’s recovery plan.

Mayor Bob Parker put a brave face on things at the media conference today, even claiming the city plan’s “visionary” Volume 1 themes had been enshrined.

The new arrangement would be a “true partnership”, he said.

But the reality is that the actual proposals contained in Volume 2 have been thrown out of the recovery scenario.

They included the mayor’s pet light rail project that would have soaked up $500m of the $2 billion recovery plan.

Mr Brownlee announced his appointee, Warwick Isaacs, to head the new Christchurch Central Development Unit that would be within the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, headed by Roger Sutton.

Mr Isaacs is CERA’s operations manager responsible for demolitions, having left his earlier job as chief executive of Timaru District Council.

The new unit will focus on rebuilding the central business district and Mr Isaacs willproduce an alternative city plan within 100 days.

It will focus on where the first new buildings will be built, such as a convention centre, which will pave the way for new hotel and tourism investment.

He will second to his unit city council staff.

“He’s a can-do guy... ,” Mr Brownlee said.

Mr Isaacs focus will include identifying locations for significant buildings, preparing development options, consider land amalgamation, promote and attract developments to local and overseas investors, and co-ordinate with other government departments.

To date, 30%, or 600, of the central city’s 1936 buildings have been demolished – more than half those that are earmarked for demolition.

Mr Brownlee said more than 15 international examples of redevelopment structures were reviewed to examine powers, processes and implementation of city recovery.

These included the redevelopment of Beirut’s CBD, Lower Manhattan, London’s Docklands and Brisbane’s Southbank Development Corporation.