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|Nelson Mandela 1918-2013|
| New Zealand News | Wednesday April 18 2012 10:28
Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee's announced a new Central City Development unit will fast-track the rebuild of Christchurch.
The Minister made the announcement in the city at 10.30am today.
The unit will be headed by CERA's demolition manager Warwick Issacs.
The group will have powers to change technical aspects of the central city plan.
Mr Brownlee says it will allow the Council to focus on Christchurch as a whole, while the Central Development Unit will hone in on the CBD.
"What CERA has is the capacity to engage further with resource and focus totally on the CBD so that we can get a much faster commitment to rebuild in there."
He says there's a need to look first and foremost at the projects which will bring life back into the city.
"The first one we're going to concentrate on will be a convention centre so that we get hotels, we get retail, we get commercial, we get everything else that follows in behind that type of activity."
Property developer and head of the City Owners Rebuild Entity Group, Ernest Duval, says it's a positive step forward.
"For this unit our role will be to fast track consents and resource consents and really to adopt a can-do attitude towards development."
Mr Duval was part of a business group briefed on the plan this morning and says it's a good step in the right direction.
"It's going to provide certainty and it'll give property investors, developers, and owners a go to person as it were in order to submit their projects, get them approved and get them underway."
The new unit's first task within the next 100 days will be preparing a blueprint for the implementation of the plan, which will detail how the city will look.
Mr Brownlee says the unit will also identify how to streamline consents.
Chief executive of Christchurch's Chamber of Commerce Peter Townsend says the plan sends a strong message the city council and the government will be working together.
"I think this will be good for Christchurch, it's a pragmatic approach to the implementation of the plan in the most efficient way possible and we should applaud that. We need strong leadership, a strong sense of direction."
And Christchurch's Mayor is welcoming the announcement of a special unit to fast track the rebuilding of the central city.
Bob Parker calls it a 'historic moment' for the city.
He says it's great to see the ideas shared by residents to help form the central city plan being taken seriously by the Government.
"Very supportive of what is proposed here. I believe it is in the best interests of our city and I think we've taken a major step toward a great outcome for the people of Christchurch and for the future of this province and our country."
Mr Parker says it's a major step towards a great outcome for the future of Canterbury.
"To have the commitment from central government to work together in partnership to deliver this is, I believe, all we could ask. This is exactly the right approach that we need to take at this time."
He says it shows the 106,000 ideas shared by the city's residents last year are being taken seriously by government.
Labour MP Lianne Dalziel says today's announcement is nothing more than a patch up job and a better late than never response to what has been a terrible process.
She says for city councillors to only learn yesterday of the Government's intentions on a plan they'd submitted four months ago is a travesty of process and substance.
Ms Dalziel says today's announcement is nothing more than a patch up job and a better late than never response to what has been a terrible process.
"I don't think we would have been having this discussion today if we hadn't had the Christchurch City Council off doing a CBD plan, somebody else off doing recovery strategy, somebody else off doing other things."
Ms Dalziel says creating another layer of bureaucracy will be cold comfort for the city and the steps taken are proof the model originally chosen has been a failure.
"It's a shame that it's taken us a year now to get to this point where we've got another hundred days to wait to see whether this new body can deliver."
Earlier speculation suggested the council would be stripped of their building consent powers.
But City Council chief executive Tony Marryatt says that's not the case.
"What will happen though in the next hundred days is the planning rules will be confirmed by the Government for the central city but then it will be, the council will be administering those rules in the normal way, administering the plan and giving building consents and inspections."
Photo: NZ Herald