Key won't put figure on quake plan

Prime Minister John Key will not say how much the Government intends to spend on buying up land for the rebuild of Christchurch's quake-damaged city centre.

Mr Key yesterday announced the much-anticipated blueprint for the city centre, which would feature a covered sports stadium as its showpiece.

The plan includes 12 key sites for major facilities, including a new 2000-capacity convention centre at a "postcard location" by the Avon River, a huge aquatic and indoor sports facility, a revitalised square with a new central library, and a "frame" of leafy open spaces.

For the plan to be realised the Government will have to buy land off some 800 landowners.

Mr Key has promised landowners would get a fair price, but this morning would not say how much the Government intended to spend on the buy-up.

"Clearly we can't spell out exactly how much money we're going to spend because that would give away the negotiating hand of the Government and wouldn't make a lot of sense," he told TV3's Firstline this morning.

"If you looked at the land today, it's probably not worth very much at all. Now clearly the Government has to be fairer than that, so we're going to try to sit down, we'd like to try to negotiate with landowners as much as we possibly can.

"If in the end we couldn't, then we have the power under the legislation to involuntarily acquire the land as we could theoretically under the Public Works Act. So we have the capacity to do that, but we'd rather work in a more collaborative process."

The new CBD would have a smaller land footprint - which would solve the problem of "too much land, not enough demand" - but Mr Key said it would also have greater capacity.

"So economics would tell you that over time, the land values will probably rise."

Investors who already had significant land holdings in the CBD were "very enthused" by the blueprint and just wanted to get on with it, Mr Key said.

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee has also refused to say how much the Government would spend.

He said yesterday that the Government had allocated $5.5 billion on the earthquake recovery so far and had already spent $2.45b.

The blueprint will result in a low-rise city, with a maximum height limit on new buildings of 28m, or up to eight storeys, and will be divided into precincts of health, arts and entertainment, retail, as well as the justice and emergency sectors.

The Christchurch Central Development Unit, set up in April by the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) to plan the CBD rebuild, was given 100 days to come up with the blueprint.

The city centre was largely destroyed in the magnitude-6.3 earthquake of February 22 last year, which claimed 185 lives.

Investors and developers say they have been unable to consider any rebuild plans until they knew the location of the new civic facilities.

Mr Brownlee said the recovery plan contained a blueprint for a smaller, greener, central city that will set Christchurch apart from any other urban centre.

"The plan and its implementation are being watched by the rest of the world, which has also been supportive of Christchurch in its time of need," Mr Brownlee said.

"I anticipate a light, airy, college-campus style feel for the home of numerous innovative Christchurch companies and public sector agencies."

The Government will be working with around 800 city property owners, and will have the powers under the Cera Act 2011 to compulsorily buy land it needs to make way for key facilities.

Further details on a new hospital, advanced technology hub, and a justice precinct are expected to follow in coming months.

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker yesterday said the plan was a "bold vision", and the blueprint received rave reviews from developers and investors at last night's glitzy launch at the city council headquarters.

Millionaire city property owner Antony Gough said the city had been in "uncharted waters" but now had "a chart to lead the way".


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