Quake rebuilders told they must listen to residents

By Jarrod Booker

The draft plan for a smaller, greener CBD in quake-shattered Christchurch has been accepted by the Government. Photo / File
The draft plan for a smaller, greener CBD in quake-shattered Christchurch has been accepted by the Government. Photo / File

Christchurch's earthquake-hit residents will welcome the Government taking charge of rebuilding the central city, says a group representing them, but the views of residents must be heeded.

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee yesterday announced the new Christchurch Central Development Unit - an extension of the Government's Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) - that will oversee redevelopment of the Christchurch CBD, which was badly damaged in the February 2011 earthquake.

Mr Brownlee pledged the unit would be a partnership with the Christchurch City Council, which worked with residents in coming up with a $2 billion vision for a new city centre.

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker says the unit is a "combination made in heaven", but Opposition politicians are calling it a "patch-up job" that undermines democracy.

CanCern, a group representing quake-affected residents, says the community will "generally" welcome the Government driving reconstruction of the city centre.

The important issue would be how well the Government worked with the council and listened to the people, said CanCern chairman Tom McBrearty.

"Collectively, they have to come to an agreement, and find the best answers for our city."

Mr Brownlee said the Government had a greater range of powers, and influence over crucial investment, which would be required to get the best outcomes for Christchurch.

Volume one of the council's plan for the CBD has been accepted by Government, but Mr Brownlee said there was not a commitment to financing all projects in the plan.

Mr Parker dismissed claims of tensions between the council and the Government over rebuilding the CBD.

"What we have now been given is a far more comprehensive approach ... than the council could have achieved on its own," Mr Parker said.

"It's going to get us a good result, a better result, I think, than we would have had had we just been left to our own resources."

Labour Party earthquake recovery spokeswoman Lianne Dalziel said the new unit was a patch-up job.

"Something Christchurch is used to after the earthquakes - papering over the cracks in a structure that has put a single government minister in charge of the recovery.

"Without a layer of governance between the minister and Cera, we have decisions being made by Cabinet, implemented by bureaucrats and undermining the last remaining democratic institution in Christchurch - our city council."

CHANGE OF PLAN

* The Christchurch Central Development Unit is an extension of the Government's Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera), but will draw on Christchurch City Council expertise.
* The unit will be led by Cera operations manager Warwick Isaacs. It will have 100 days to come up with a redevelopment blueprint.
* The council's draft plan is for a smaller, greener, low-rise CBD, which the Government says has "widespread community support".

- NZ Herald

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