Suburbs 'forgotten' in Christchurch rebuild plan
Tuesday 31 Jul 2012 5:27 a.m.
The efforts and resources being put into rebuilding Christchurch's central city should also be showered on the city's shattered suburbs, says a group representing red zone residents.
The blueprint for a compact, low-rise Christchurch CBD with separate cultural, sporting and retail precincts - surrounded by green space - was unveiled on Monday night.
Wider Earthquake Communities Action Network spokesman Reverend Mike Coleman commended the job done on the CBD blueprint, but questioned why the same efforts had not been put into the suburbs, where he said 28,000 of the most damaged houses had not been touched.
It would be up to eight years before some people had their housing problems resolved, and some elderly residents could die in that time, he said.
"There's a lot of anger in the suburbs. You try to explain it to (rebuild minister) Gerry Brownlee and he just doesn't get it," he told NZ Newswire.
Mr Coleman said Mr Brownlee had denied there were major problems with health, housing, insurance and EQC.
"He just seems to have his head in the sand, it's stunning really."
Mr Coleman said there needed to be an insurance tribunal with major statutory powers to make the insurance companies and EQC accountable.
The CBD rebuild and wider city rebuild needed to go "hand in hand", Mr Coleman said.
"It's absolutely vital the CBD is rebuilt, but you don't do it at the expense of the suburbs."
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However, the head of the team that created the blueprint, Warwick Isaacs, says the central city was where people worked and it would take years for it to be rebuilt. The residential areas had not been forgotten, he said.
Mr Coleman was at the protest at the blueprint launch on Monday evening, and managed to get a glimpse of the "incredibly lavish" launch.
"I find it a little bit obscene, to be honest, when there are so many people struggling across the city and they are putting on those kinds of functions."
The Christchurch CBD rebuild plan was welcomed by Labour MP for Christchurch East Lianne Dalziel and the Green Party.
Ms Dalziel told NZ Newswire the blueprint is an important milestone for the city and she's excited by the plans.
"I think that's going to offer a lot of confidence to people, both in terms of the confidence for the central city, but also the confidence for investors coming in and investing in the rebuild," she said.
"It should be a real boost."
The Green Party has broadly welcomed the plan and says it's a strong basis for creating a more sustainable city.
"The Government's purchase of land to the south and east of central Christchurch to 'frame' the city's central core is sensible and a good move towards rebuilding Christchurch as a modern green city," Green Party Christchurch spokeswoman Eugenie Sage said.
The blueprint has also been praised by the tourism industry.
Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism chief executive Tim Hunter says the plan puts Christchurch on track to become one of the greatest cities in Australasia.
"Now that we have certainty about the way the city will develop we can go out and promote the new and evolving Christchurch on the world stage," he said.
"We now have a serious business case for tourism investment in Christchurch. With this blueprint I'm confident we can attract the replacement hotel, hospitality and retail investment we urgently need."
NZN / 3 News