Residents' group welcomes quake home rezoning

The Government's decision to rezone another 255 orange zone homes in quake-ravaged eastern Christchurch has come as a "huge relief'' to many homeowners, a residents' society said.

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee today announced 42 properties would be given green stickers and the rest written off.

The 213 properties zoned red are in the suburbs of Avonside, Burwood, Dallington and Wainoni. Owners with insurance cover will be eligible for the Crown's residential red zone offer.

Avonside Residents Society co-chairman Paul Watson said: "The decision today announcing how orange zone residents will be finally zoned in our area will come as a huge relief to many homeowners and tenants.

"Us orange zoners have had a long wait, most since the first major quake in September 2010. It's been an anxious and stressful time waiting for this announcement but folk can now begin to get on with their lives and start planning their futures with more certainty.''

More than 10,000 properties on flat land were zoned orange and the fate of all but 653 has been decided. About two-thirds are in Southshore.

"After what has been a long and anxious process for those waiting for decisions we're now into the final stretch of rezoning properties in the residential orange zone,'' said Mr Brownlee.

"As I've stressed in recent months, the judgement calls being made on remaining properties are finer and more complex than previous decisions, which is why they haven't been announced sooner.

"But most of the geotechnical and other expert works are now done, and I expect the 653 remaining orange zone properties to be rezoned in the coming weeks.''

Mr Brownlee says some of the newly-zoned properties were previously on the boundary of green and red zones.

"Work has been specifically looking at these boundary areas over the past few months and the results show that when taking the level of engineering works needed into account, these properties should also be zoned red.

"There are some other small pockets of land where there is contention over the appropriateness of existing zoning; those areas will be reviewed and decisions made on whether changes are required only once the final zoning of all 653 remaining orange zoned properties is concluded.''

Land on the 42 Wainoni properties zoned green today can be repaired individually. These will come under the Department of Building and Housing's Technical Category 3 guidelines.

The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) will be sending letters and arranging a public meeting to further inform this group of residents on next steps in the coming weeks.

Cera will ensure there is face-to-face, individual contact with all owners of the 213 properties rezoned red.

There are also 2100 white zoned residential properties in the Port Hills which need rezoning.

Mr Brownlee said those white zoners would not be "forgotten'' and both Cera and the city council were working together on a range of issues to assess the state of the ground and the life risks these property owners face, and to provide advice on options to mitigate that risk.

Mr Watson said today's decision would also bring "mixed emotions'' for some homeowners and hoped geotechnical engineers and politicians had made the "right decision''.

"I sincerely hope they have got it right because, potentially, if widespread dissatisfaction emerges around this decision, then the spotlight will be firmly pointed in their direction and challenges may emerge.

"It's too early to gauge what the community's attitude might be to that but we are looking forward to a good consultative process so Cera can explain this decision to effected residents in more detail.''

Mr Watson stressed that "great care'' needs to be taken to support individual residents who find the decision hard to bear.

He added: "I'm pleased to see that agency supports are being provided where necessary. The psychological effects of the long wait, of the agonising uncertainty, the ongoing quakes and gradual dislocation of community has taken its toll already for many, so for those who this decision comes as an unexpected shock they are likely to need the most support through the process.''


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