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Christchurch Earthquake bulletin edition 106

Christchurch Earthquake bulletin edition 106

The Labour Party's Christchurch electorate MPs, Clayton Cosgrove (Waimakariri), Ruth Dyson (Port Hills), Lianne Dalziel (Christchurch East) and Brendon Burns (Christchurch Central) have started a regular bulletin to keep people in their electorates and media informed about what is happening at grass roots level.

CLAYTON COSGROVE: It was pleasing to see some relief for people in Christchurch's hill areas following yesterday's announcement that nearly 10,000 Port Hills properties have been designated 'green'. Hopefully now they will be able to progress with pace. However, the insurance gridlock remains. To quote Michael Barnett from the Auckland Chamber of Commerce; people need certainty and hope, and where there is uncertainty--- as there is with insurance provision--- Government needs to look at interventions. This issue is flowing into every part of the Canterbury community. Construction folk are having great difficulty progressing work because they cannot get building insurance and earthquake victims who wish to move, or are lucky enough to have found a new property, cannot get insurance. This uncertainty ultimately has an impact on business and community confidence. Yet again, I ask whether Mr Brownlee will use the powers he has been given to take action in this sector.

RUTH DYSON: The next stage of the waiting game for 9700 Port Hills residents is over, with the announcement of the white zone moving to green. This is a big step forward, and hopefully will mean our builders can get the green light to go ahead with the work they have been desperate to start. The other area of frustration which is not yet resolved is which sections will still require an individual geotech report before the building consent process can begin. The Department of Building and Housing is apparently preparing new guidelines for building on the hills, but until these guidelines are issued, there will be many who will have the cost and the time of an individual report. Clear guidance from the council is needed on this issue.

LIANNE DALZIEL: I have been attending a number of meetings with constituents who received a letter from CERA that started by saying "Congratulations", because they were in the go-ahead green zone. The use of the word congratulations was ill-conceived. I have met with constituents who have been green zoned but whose property's border the red zone. They have been told that they have to go to the back of the queue, because the needs of those in the orange zones are much more pressing. I believe that the borders of the red zones should have been left in the orange zone so that these properties could have been carefully assessed based on the criteria that have been applied to the red zones, but also taking into account the natural boundaries that streets or parks provide. I am still awaiting a response from the Minister to the questions I have raised. I said that although people had expressed a view about what their preferred zoning would be, my point was that people couldn't know what they wanted until they had all the information - the principles of informed consent apply. I am hoping that the Minister sees that providing information to affected communities will help people understand the decision - whether it is good news or bad news.

BRENDON BURNS: As someone who for months has been championing the need to retain some of our city's heritage, I acknowledge the provision of $18m in yesterday's release of earthquake donated relief funds. This comes on top of the council's provision in its CDB draft plan of $5m a year for five years, on top of existing modest funding. At last night's meeting of the IConIC heritage group, council planners also outlined new rules for developments adjacent to heritage buildings and a height bonus where heritage facades are retained.

Christchurch City Council is also looking at a campaign to raise funds internationally for heritage retention. This is all positive. More glumly, while the new CBD plan makes a new Calendar Girls less likely it is not impossible. This ugly windowless building was able to be built in a row of heritage buildings in Hereford St including my former office. And we heard the international planner Dr Kit Miyamoto left Christchurch despondent having warned us of the folly of knocking down so many heritage buildings. CERA reportedly told him he was being unrealistic. There will be little point in having funds to repair heritage buildings if by next year there is little left to save.

Authorised by Clayton Cosgrove, MP, Parliament Buildings, Wellington.

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