A Christchurch couple who had 11 of their properties red-zoned in Brooklands will not know if they are entitled to any compensation until next year.
John and Debbie Fowler, who developed the Seafield Lagoon subdivision in southeastern Brooklands, have 11 vacant sections still on the market.
The bare land is uninsured and may not qualify for the usual Government red-zone offer to buy it.
Brooklands was effectively wiped off the map on Thursday when 417 properties were rezoned red, meaning the entire suburb's land was uneconomic to repair.
Debbie Fowler said that when they did not receive the letter delivered to all Brooklands homeowners before the announcement, she called the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) to find out why.
"They said there was just no decision made and no indication of when there would be. They said some time in the new year, but how long's a piece of string?
"I cannot understand how you can...separate the landowners from the house owners. Why would the decision not be made at the same time?"
She was worried the delay could mean bad news.
"Are they still trying to decide whether we will actually be paid out or as just landowners it might be tough luck for us?"
A Cera spokeswoman said orange and white-zone residents were a higher priority and consideration would be given to vacant sites next year.
Until then the Government offer was only for insured residential property owners in residential red zones.
The Earthquake Commission (EQC) covered quake-damaged residential land, but a spokesman said landowners needed a house insurance policy to qualify.
"If an empty section's not insured, then it is definitely not covered. In terms of their options, EQC's just not one."
John Fowler said he was "still in bloody shock" at the news.
"We've ended up with 11 sections out there which is basically all the equity we've got in life.
"We thought finally at least we're going to get an answer resolved."
The couple began the development in 2008, investing more than $5 million to subdivide it into 31 sites, much of it on bringing in fill to meet higher flood-plain requirements.
The development stumbled when the buyers of several pre-sold sites were hit by the global financial crisis and could not settle. Several sites had to be sold below value to reduce debt.
Fowler estimated the rateable value (RV) for the sections, which a government offer would be based on, was $175,000. The sections retailed between $240,000 and $260,000.
"The development costs aren't covered by what the rateable value is, let alone seeing any other money on it. I was prepared to accept [an RV payout] just to try and move on with life."
"We're told we've got one more rotation back with EQC and then they're cutting the staff numbers down from over 600 to 100. Everyone's basically been told to go and look for another job next year."Fowler was working for EQC, but that was likely to finish at the end of the year.
Fowler said a Government payout would have let him try his hand elsewhere in property.
"I'd have some working capital back and I could have got out there and do what I've done for 30-odd years."
- The Press