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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Land nod for earthquake refugees

Land nod for earthquake refugees

Last updated 05:00 01/04/2011
Land that could house people displaced by the February earthquake has been approved for development by the Christchurch City Council.

However, the final decision may yet lie with the new Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera).

At a closed session yesterday, the council adopted changes to the city plan that will rezone land in southwest Christchurch so it can be used in the Wigram Skies commercial and residential development.

Regulatory and planning committee chairwoman Sue Wells said the development could provide new homes for quake refugees.

"It really brings life into the southwestern area and we couldn't have a more important time for it."

She said people who had lost their homes could "need it sooner rather than later".

The decision is subject to appeals to the Environment Court.

Wells said it was not known what decisions Cera could make on Christchurch housing projects.

The authority has wide powers to procure land and override normal resource consent processes.

"It's very dependent on the Government and their announcements.

"Whether the legislation will address the appeal right or not will wait to be seen. I guess we just have to wait," said Wells. A decision on whether to rezone about 205 hectares for the proposed Prestons Rd housing scheme in Marshland was deferred for three months.

Wells said the commissioners had made "fairly strong" recommendations on what the decision should be.

"It's a very firm decision that was made before the earthquake," she said.

The 2500-house development may allow those forced to leave homes in the eastern suburbs to at least remain living on the same side of the city, she said.

"The real issue is that we've got a lot of people affected out in the eastern suburbs and we just don't know what the situation is for them going forward.

"It would be foolish of us to get ourselves pulled into a decision on Prestons Rd without knowing that."

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