Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


Christchurch Failure – The Long History | Hugh Pavletich

Christchurch Failure – The Long History


By Hugh Pavletich -Performance Urban Planning

The mongrel political and commercial culture of Christchurch has erupted in to the open.

The recovery is now widely understood to be a failure.

Georgina Styliaonu of The Press reports today “Rebuild friction rises to surface” on the tensions, following the commissioning of a report by the New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development (NZCID) …

“… shows major banks, construction companies and engineering firms believe the Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU) and the Christchurch City Council are holding back the rebuild.”

Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee has responded, stating that private landowners and developers have created the “biggest mess on our plate”.

As is usual with Christchurch, not one critical person is mentioned within The Press report.

The reason for this is because they are apprehensive of political and commercial retribution. But it goes further than that.

These same critics had for years been the major props for the long-term political failure of Christchurch, going back 25 years to the time of the forced Local Government amalgamation in 1989.

It was downhill all the way from there.

Until the time of the first earthquakes 4 September 2010, the two major external props of the failed Christchurch City Council were the local Chamber of Commerce and The Press.

The Press woke up following the first earthquake events. The Chamber of Commerce has so far failed to do so.

As well-known property investor Sir Bob Jones made clear in a the Press Opinion September 2011 “Sir Bob Jones Advice on Christchurch Quake Rebuild” , competent developers and investors had long left Christchurch, abandoning it to “hobbyists and sentimentalists”.

Following the forced local government amalgamation, predictably, the Council bureaucrats gained control ( with the destructive British style local government culture ) and commercial reality and sound development vaporised.

Grovelling by the inept became the order of the day. They deserved one another.

Crony capitalism has been the game, where the favoured few ( with the competent and honest excluded ) gained the commercial protections and privileges they sought.

They could never survive honest and open competition … and they know it. The consumer is the loser.

As the Council bureaucracy bloated and it lost control of its costs, understandably it strangled land supply, forced unwanted intensification ( naturally as cities become increasingly affluent they become less dense ) without maintaining and upgrading the infrastructure ( hence most of the recent flooding ) and increasingly milked ever higher and unjustified levies from those buying new property (misnamed “development levies” which they are not, because the developer is simply the intermediary).

Little wonder then that in the lead-up to the September 2010 earthquakes, in development terms, Christchurch was already on its's knees . The Council was severely dysfunctional.

Central Government intervention was inevitable … and generally not helpful. Layering bureaucracy on bureaucracy was an unworkable substitute for dealing with the Councils structural and systemic problems head on.

Due to this long-term governance and planning failure, the earthquake events will likely cost $NZ40 billion +, when they should have cost about $NZ15 billion. With much less heartache.

In dry technical parlance, this is referred to as institutional failure.

Dysfunctional governance and unaffordable housing go hand in hand.

Christchurch housing is rated internationally severely unaffordable and with the other major New Zealand metros, has the worst traffic congestion in the developed world .

This is a remarkable feat of bureaucratic incompetence, when it is realised that New Zealand with its tiny population of just 4.5 million ( Christchurch City just 370,000 ), has much the same land area as the United Kingdom with its population of 63 million.

As the former Principal Urban Planner with the World Bank Alain Bertaud make clear within the Introduction to this year’s 10th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey , the major focus of local politicians and planners must be on housing affordability and urban mobility.

This writer has covered this litany of failures over recent years. The major articles pertaining to Christchurch have been …

June 2012 - Christchurch: The Way Forward with earlier hyperlinked articles

July 2013 - Christchurch: the political shambles

March 2014 - Strange bedfellows: Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel and the Rockefeller Foundation

April 2014 - New Zealand’s Bubble Economy Is Vulnerable

The problems and solutions are well known. They need to be better understood … and fast.

It is up to the citizens of Christchurch to decide whether or not they wish to continue on the Detroit style path of urban destruction.

ENDS

The above article may be distributed and reproduced in whole or in part with attribution.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Scoop Is Crowd Funding: Help Scoop.co.nz To Fly In 2015

Scoop is NZ's oldest and largest independent online news service. We have described ourselves as fiercely independent for more than a decade and we would like to stay that way... By making Scoop’s connection to the public and contributors more explicit we hope to achieve the level of support and sustainability that will enable Scoop to fly as a community asset. More>>

ALSO:

McBeth On The Cricket World Cup: It's How They Handle Fan Pressure

Brendon McCullum's team has achieved impressive results in the lengthy buildup to the contest and they deserve to be among the favoured teams, but... Their results need to be kept in perspective and fans should get a much better idea of the Black Caps chances when they face England in the capital on Friday. More>>

Keith Rankin: Contribution Through Innovation

The economic contribution of businesses and people is often quite unrelated to their taxable incomes. EHome, as a relatively new company, may have never earned any taxable income. Its successors almost certainly will earn income and pay tax. Yet it was eHome itself who made the biggest contribution by starting the venture in the first place. More>>

ALSO:

A Public Conversation: Reinventing News As A Public Right

Alastair Thompson: Oh how the mighty have fallen. Once journalism was possibly a noble profession, though that is certainly now, to quote our Prime Minister, a 'contestable' notion. It certainly seemed at least a little noble when I joined the ranks of reporters in 1989 . But ... More>>

ALSO:

Syriza Win Greek Election: The Rumblings Of The Left

Binoy Kampmark: The left – and by this, the genuine, progressive, unmanagerial left – is getting noisy. The Greek elections are upon us, with the similar challenges being played out from 2012. There are fears of Grexit – a heavy breathing departure from the eurozone that will do everything to rattle the central currency mechanism that has been taking a battering... More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news