Landowners in the dark over sites' future

Posted 19 Jul 2012 by MediaStuff Popular
Posted in CBD , CERA/Govt , Rebuild , Media
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The team planning the central Christchurch rebuild is keeping landowners in the dark on whether their properties could be taken over as sites for anchor projects.

The property owners will find out whether their land has been earmarked as the site for one of 12 planned anchor projects, including a convention centre and public transport hub, when the Central City Development Unit issues its blueprint for development at the end of the month.

"In general, they won't know," Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority chief executive Roger Sutton told city councillors yesterday.

"We're not giving any sneak previews. For some people, it is going to be good news; for some people, it is going to be frustrating."

The unit has been working with a consortium led by Christchurch-based consultants Boffa Miskell on redesigning the inner city around 12 anchor projects considered crucial to breathing life back into the central business district.

At the time the unit took over responsibility for planning the inner-city rebuild, its director, Warwick Isaacs, said property owners directly affected by the siting of the anchor projects would be consulted before the blueprint was made public.

"We would look at ownership and discuss those things with the owners so [when the blueprint is made public], it's not going to be a surprise to them," Isaacs said at the time.

The Press yesterday asked Cera what process would be in place for property owners who objected to the proposed use of their land as outlined in the blueprint for the city centre.

Would they have a right of appeal or could Cera commandeer a site?

The authority said it would be inappropriate to make any comment before the blueprint announcement.

Cera has the power to compulsorily acquire land and combine titles, but Sutton has previously said that such action was unlikely.

Ernest Duval, who owns a property in the city centre, said he understood the commercial reasons why Cera would not consult property owners before the blueprint was made public, but it should have been talking to them in broad terms about the mechanisms that it planned to use to acquire the land it wanted.

"The reason they're probably not consulting with anybody is because at some stage they're going to have to amalgamate land for these key anchor assets and that's going to affect property owners," he said.

"Nobody has been game enough to actually put it on the table that we're either going to buy your land or we're going to put you into some sort of property ownership company in which you will get shares.

"I think what you're going to find is that two hours before the blueprint is released to the public those landowners will be tapped on the shoulder and will be told, ‘We're going to acquire your land' or, ‘We're going to put you into a property ownership company and pay you dividends'.""They have been very tight on that.

Duval said he had been told by a senior official that the sites of the 12 anchor project were "99 per cent confirmed".

"There are going to be some winners and some losers," he said.


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