The quake-flattened residential red zone, and the ownership of several central Christchurch anchor projects, will transfer to the rebuilding city's council under proposed final settlement plans unveiled today.

The proposed deal ties off years of uncertainty around just who pays for what in Christchurch's multi-billion post-quake rebuild.

Two years after the February 22, 2011 jolt that claimed 185 lives and devastated the city, Christchurch City Council and the Crown signed a "milestone" $4.8 billion cost-sharing deal.

Then-mayor Bob Parker's council and the National Government's Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee agreed the Crown would cough up $2.9b to the city's big ticket blueprint projects, including $284m for a new convention centre, and the council would contribute $1.9b.

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For the past few months, senior council and Crown officials have been back around the negotiation table, working on a Global Settlement to resolve all the outstanding issues from the 2013 agreement.

Under the draft Global Settlement, a number of "central city public realm assets" will be transferred to the local authority by the Crown, including the new Bus Interchange, Metro Sports Facility, Avon River Precinct, Margaret Mahy Family Playground, roading assets, and land for the Performing Arts Precinct.

Destruction in Christchurch's CBD after the February 2011 earthquake. Photo / File
Destruction in Christchurch's CBD after the February 2011 earthquake. Photo / File

Ownership of Te Pae, the Christchurch Convention and Exhibition Centre which is currently under construction, will remain with the Crown, while the residential red zone land in the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor, Port Hills, Brooklands and Southshore will be transferred to the council progressively over the next two years.

Other issues include:

• Crown and council to fund improvement works in Cathedral Square, with the council leading works.
• Council to deliver the Performing Arts Precinct, including the Court Theatre and a carpark.
• Council to have the opportunity to purchase Crown-owned central city land not needed for anchor projects.
• Ownership, delivery and operation of the Canterbury Multi-use Arena will be determined through the investment case currently being developed.
• Regenerate Christchurch will be asked to prepare and implement a transition plan for its future.

Dr Brendan Anstiss, one of the city council officials involved in the negotiations, says the Global Settlement is designed to provide certainty around long-term ownership of assets and who will take responsibility for the regeneration work that still needs to be done in Christchurch.

"After the earthquakes, the Crown stepped in to help with Christchurch's recovery. Both the Crown and council agree it is now time to normalise the Crown's involvement and for the council to resume full responsibility for managing the city," Anstiss said.

"The draft Global Settlement looks at how that will happen and clearly sets out the roles and responsibilities of both the Crown and the council."

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The council will continue to finalise investment cases for the $300m Christchurch Regeneration Acceleration Facility funding proposals. It is intended that $220m from the fund will go towards the multi-use arena, $40m for seed funding for the Ōtākaro Avon River corridor regeneration, and $40m for transport and roading improvements, including projects that increase safety and people using public transport.

Residents can give feedback at a special public session at the council chambers on August 6 before the council meets again on August 8 to consider whether the draft Global Settlement should be endorsed in principle.

Once approved by the council, the agreement then needs to go to Cabinet for approval before it can be finalised.

Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce chief executive Leeann Watson said the "largely positive" proposal provided "strong inroads towards re-setting a normalised relationship" between the council and Crown.

The deal would give "much-needed clarity and certainty for businesses and residents", Watson said, while realigning the relationship between the Crown and council with other cities in New Zealand.

"It also enables us to increase momentum on our city's growth trajectory and continue to shape Christchurch as an innovative, resilient and courageous city that is focused on delivering a vibrant, prosperous and sustainable 21st century experience for its businesses, residents and visitors," she said.

"We are particularly pleased to see there will be no adverse financial impact to the council and that senior officials from both entities will be appointed to monitor and implement this resolution in a timely manner. It is vital that we maintain momentum to deliver strong outcomes for the city, our businesses and our community."

Watson said while the decision not to transfer ownership of Christchurch convention centre Te Pae was "unexpected", it was a positive outcome for Christchurch, given the expected economic benefits to the region would come at no additional cost.

"While the council won't own the centre, businesses and residents will still be able to access a world-class, purpose-built, future-focused facility, and be able to maximise and leverage the asset in terms of visitor and business attraction, without the potential additional rates burden of maintaining the centre," she said.

"With the economic benefit of the facility expected to be more than $320 million in the first eight years and $57 million every year after that, we look forward to the opening of the centre in October next year."


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