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Christchurch blueprint 'an utter failure' - developer

Published: 9:03PM Monday August 27, 2012 Source: ONE News

A property developer has described the Government's buy-up for the blueprint for central Christchurch as a "land grab".

Last week businesses began receiving letters from the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) advising them of the compulsory sale of their property to make way for the rebuild plan.

But they told TVNZ's Close Up programme that there is widespread confusion over the process, which they claim has resulted in an unrealistic time-frame, concern over land values and no right of reply.

Business owners are angry with how they have been treated, and say if they go the city will lose the energy needed to keep it alive.

Property developer Lisle Hood described the move as "public terrorism on the population of Christchurch, particularly business owners".

"These letters are an exit strategy for them to take their money out of the city and put it somewhere else," he said.

"Ithink it has been an utter failure on the part of the Government in the way they've handled this and the way they've treated property owners."

Business owner Roland Logan's building holds an art space and a high-end fashion store and he wants to add a cafe and a basement restaurant.

However, Logan's property sits on the spot earmarked for the new stadium.

"We are being abused left right and centre," he said.

"It's (CERAs) mandate is the recovery of Christchurch but I think if you talk to most people on the west side of Christchurch, and most people who have a building and business in the CBD, they will say the reverse has been happening since February 22."

And while the Government admits the proposed new stadium is a long way off - if it even happens - Roland has been told he has to sell up by the end of March next year.

"The Government envisages paying only wholesale prices to the land owners in the CBD, and then they'll on-sell this land in a few years at greatly inflated prices as the CBD develops, this is grossly unjust," he said.

Hood described it as a "land grab".

"It goes a little bit beyond capitalism, its fascism," he said.

"And I don't think it's looking particularly bright and rosy.

"The plan is not going to deliver what they think it's going to deliver."

The business owners said there is a cheaper, more common sense alternative to re-developing the city.

"If the Government, with everybody as a whole, paid out the people that want to sell, did land swaps or allowed the developers on current sites to rebuild," said Logan.

"And buildings that are currently easily occupied should be given every opportunity."

Hood said he has been "shut out of the city".

"And everything has been made so extremely difficult in a way that's not necessary."

He said that if business owners - who've spent years helping to develop the city before the earthquake - leave, the "whole heart and soul" would be taken out of the city.

"You'll have lost all that energy and knowledge, and I don't think it's to the good of the recovery of Christchurch," he said.