The eastern suburbs red zone is quickly becoming a huge wasteland as houses disappear and nature takes over. And it looks like it will remain that way for many years.

City and government officials contacted by The Star could give no timeframe for any decisions on what the vast tract of land might eventually be used for when all condemned building are removed.

Mayor Bob Parker favours a "great park concept'' stretching from the Botanic Gardens to the Estuary and possibly linking the New Brighton Mall area.

He said a park encompassing the red zone from the city to the sea would provide a "significant opportunity for New Brighton to re-energise itself" and suggested a cycleway similar to the one through Hornby to Little River should be included.


But Mr Parker cannot say when such a leafy concept could become reality.

He said there was "a minefield of bureaucracy" surrounding the properties already bought by the Crown and he expected discussions would take place once the Government completed its purchasing processes.

A spokesman for Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said no decisions had been made about future use of vacant land in the eastern red zone.

More than 1300 houses have already been demolished, with about 6000 to go once the owners have settled sales to the Crown by June 30, according to the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera).

A spokeswoman said it was difficult to be "absolutely specific" on the number still to be demolished because not all the 7860 red zone properties had buildings on them and a small number were expected to be removed by their former owners.

She said Cera was not seeking ideas on how the land might be used.

Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) crown property manager Bill Naik said the government department was helping Cera with property management for eastern suburbs residential red zone properties.

"Cera and LINZ have agreed that LINZ will manage this land after the houses have been demolished, until its long term use has been determined by government," he said.

Housing New Zealand owns 188 properties in the eastern red zone, of which one is still tenanted and three have been demolished.

A spokeswoman said no further demolitions were planned because the corporation was working with Cera and its insurers on all properties vacated because of the earthquakes.

The corporation began a lawn-mowing programme last year to ensure the grounds were maintained. Houses were boarded up to prevent vandalism and all rubbish removed.