Government allows Christchurch zoning decision appeals

Christchurch with cranes dominating the CBD. Homeowners in the earthquake-devastated city may appeal their zoning decision. Photo / Geoff Sloan
Christchurch with cranes dominating the CBD. Homeowners in the earthquake-devastated city may appeal their zoning decision. Photo / Geoff Sloan

The government has decided to hear appeals by quake-hit Christchurch homeowners unhappy with their land zoning decision.

In Christchurch today, Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee announced the introduction of a review process for those insured residential property owners who wish to query their land zoning.

Flat land property owners wishing to query their zoning have until June 30 to making an application for review to the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA), Mr Brownlee said.

A similar review structure will be implemented for Port Hills residents following their zoning process, which is due for completion by the end of the month.

Zoning of flat land in greater Christchurch began in June last year and was completed last month.

Over that period 7253 properties were zoned red as unsuitable for residential occupation due to significant earthquake damage. A further 180,000 properties were zoned green as suitable for residential occupation, some with conditions.

Some 550 people have contacted CERA over the past year to request a review of their zone status.

The majority are in the green zone and wish to be zoned red, while 80 red zoned property owners are seeking re-designation to the green zone.

Mr Brownlee said: "To robustly assess the requests an advisory group has been established comprising three CERA officials with expertise in public policy, law and geotechnical engineering.

"In addition an independent member, Dr Keith Turner, has also been appointed."

Dr Turner is presently chairman of NZX-listed Fisher & Paykel Appliances and is a distinguished fellow of the Institute of Professional Engineers New Zealand.

The advisory group's role will be to assess if zoning changes are appropriate. They will consider a variety of scenarios, including if the original zoning is inconsistent with the Cabinet classifications or there are boundary anomalies.

The deadline for the advisory group to complete their review and report back to applicants is July 30, 2012.

Meanwhile, Brownlee announced an extension of the residential red zone to include 17 that were being built when the magnitude-6.3 quake hit on February 22, last year.

He said the move would help the property owners move on "following the hardship caused by the earthquakes".

Seven non-residential properties owned by not-for-profit organisations in the residential red zone are also covered by the extension.

The Government also said a land zoning milestone has now been reached, with the 5000th property owner signing a sale and purchase agreement with the Crown.

It means that 70 per cent of those in the residential red zone have chosen an offer.

"Our first land zoning decisions were made on 23 June last year, and the first offers were sent to red zoned residents in August," Brownlee said.

"I'm very pleased so many families in suburbs deemed unsuitable for residential occupation because of earthquake damage are swiftly moving on with their lives to a positive future."

- APNZ

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