The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority says 26,000 sections should be coming to market for development in the devastated city of Christchurch next year.

Cera chief executive Roger Sutton told Parliament's finance and expenditure committee today that the pace of the department's work had accelerated since its inception last year, and it has paved the way for some widespread residential property development to house displaced locals.

"Six thousand sections within the greater Christchurch region are available for development," he said. "Hopefully by next year we will have those properties on market."

Property values are increasing in Christchurch, according to last month's Quotable Value figures, and ASB's housing confidence survey shows house price inflation expectations are greatest in the country's second-biggest city.


Mr Sutton said the speed with which it was moving had attracted all kinds of investors looking for greenfield opportunities and he was optimistic about the city's future.

Cera was working through some $2.5 billion of infrastructure reconstruction, with water, sewerage, electricity and telecommunications networks at the front of the queue before new roading is installed.

Mr Sutton came under fire from Labour Party MP Lianne Dalziel, who said residents in the red zone, where the Government decided homes were uneconomic to repair, were given a "Clayton's choice" in voluntarily accepting the Government's offer.

Last year, Prime Minister John Key and Earthquake Reconstruction Minister Gerry Brownlee announced an offer to residents in the red zone to either sell property and land to the Crown at a pre-September valuation or sell only the land to the Government, leaving the resident to deal with the insurer.

Cera still had at least a year to work through demolishing buildings in Christchurch's central business district, and the department was trying to recycle as much material as possible, Sutton said.

The Earthquake Commission also appeared in front of the committee and chairman Michael Wintringham said the department was working through ways to pay a cash settlement over the increased susceptibility of land to future events.