Christchurch red zoners offered full payout


The Crown will offer a 100 percent payout to dozens of landowners living inside the Christchurch red zones in an embarrassing U-turn for the Government.

New offers will be made to the owners of vacant, insured commercial and uninsured land at 100 percent of 2007/08 rateable value, and may reach a total cost of $58.6 million, Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) acting chief executive John Ombler says.

The payment offer is in line with other red zone payouts after the city's earthquakes and follows a lengthy legal battle in New Zealand's highest courts, with a group of affected property owners taking the Government right through the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.

Eligible landowners who accepted a Crown payout in the past will be able to apply to for a top-up, as previous offers had lowballed the residents by as much as 50 percent. The process will get underway over the next couple of weeks.

"The offers proposed to this point had included a lesser offer for uninsured properties, this was taking into account things like the cost that may fall on taxpayers in future disasters," Mr Ombler said in a statement this morning.

"But the overwhelming feedback was that the offer to uninsured property owners for their land should be the same as that for vacant and insured commercial property owners."

CERA will also reopen the deal to a group of 'stayers' who previously rejected the Crown's offer and opted to stay living in the red zone. The offer may spark some interest as the areas are now largely abandoned and many locals have previously said they couldn't afford to move away.

"The public has asked for this step, and CERA has had feedback from some that living in the red zone is not what they had expected, and they would like to have another opportunity to consider an offer from the Crown," Mr Ombler says.

Anyone who may be eligible for a Crown offer or a top-up can contact CERA by calling 0800 RING CERA (0800 7464 2372), emailing their helpline or visiting their website.

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