How not to repair a heritage building in the Christchurch CBD part 137

  • Locked out of undamaged factory for 1075 days – (since Feb 2011)
  • Do we still own our building????    Now 548 days since designated “South frame, Innovation Precinct” – only 1279 days to go before we get told if we are going to be compulsorily acquired by CCDU.
  • Innovation precinct Plan Due:  September,  October,  November, December 2013, January, February ????  Rumour has it not till March !!!!!
  • Building Consent for my new house 63 working days so far.- rumours are its close.

Still waiting……

An Interesting article by John McCrone on the Innovation Precinct and its slowly evaporating ideals. Link Here:

There are a number of comments that resonate with me.

“Then there is the innovation precinct. This is a difficult proposition both because the two blocks of buildings, most of them badly damaged, are divided among a much greater number of land owners, and also because the area had an established identity that owners would naturally seek to rebuild.

Laurie Rose, chair of the High Street Precinct Group (Interesting, I did not know that this group still functioned,  gee I wonder if I am a member?) says pre-quake, the corner of the city around McKenzie & Willis, with its cluster of heritage buildings ripe for renovation, had been developing a relaxed, mellow feel.”

“Rose says fashion business had become a feature and there was talk of a fashion incubator as a natural connection to CPIT. So, left alone, owners would have picked themselves back up, collected their insurance and got on with rebuilding more or less what had existed.”

“But now the CCDU has dropped its paralysing designation over the area. Owners are being expected to build back a hi-tech precinct, but if the tenants are to be mostly small start-ups, it seems unlikely they could afford the rents on new buildings.”

The point Laurie Rose makes is very valid.  The tenants of the Epic Innovation hub want cheap rents and “free” land.  Building new buildings and having cheap rents do not go hand in hand.   If they want cheap rent they will need to move out of the CBD.

“Lisle Hood, developer of the Lichfield Lanes project, centred around Poplar St, says the CCDU is trying to drive a square peg into a round hole.

Hood says perhaps the CCDU will get half what it wishes for. It might find one or two large corporate tenants to kickstart a transition – Vodafone is one of those known to be looking. But equally, there is the chance that the whole precinct idea might be quietly allowed to evaporate.

Hood says the CCDU has already started lifting designations on individual properties like the C1 Cafe and Alice in Videoland. Bit by bit, the plan could fragment. The spatial plan, if it is ever released, will be the test.

However in the end, says Hood, by taking over control of central Christchurch, instead of making its recovery faster, the bureaucrats appear to have achieved the opposite.”

This was a good article addressing some of the issues.  I think that John McCrone’s highlighting off some of the problems in the Innovation Zone is starting to make the Council stand up and take a harder look at the area.

Johnny Moore has been busy thinking again.  Link here:

He refers to the city “lurching drunkenly along the rebuild path”

“While the official rebuild lurches and staggers along like an old drunk walking home, great things have happened despite poor decision-making; and it will be years before the old drunk is fumbling with his keys at his front door. In the meantime, we need to nurture and foster projects that are putting Christchurch on an international stage.”

he also comments on  “the institutional rebuild. Nobody overseas is excited about the bland precinct plan or an overpriced stadium. The brutal, homogenized city presented to us in the media every day is uninspiring and normal.”

Incidentally the consensus of opinion in the city is that the stadium is a dead duck.  Repair the one we have and leave that project for later on.  It is unaffordable and the designation on that area is stopping development.

How is progress on our building?

Slow progress.

Upstairs floor is being sanded as we speak, in preparation for occupation.

Down stairs is on hold as we wait for the Building Consent paper work to catch up.

Now to complicate the situation.

The Building consents department has sent me 2 emails, cancelling any building amendments (2) that we may have in progress with them. Both emails came within minutes of each other. One consent dating to January 2011 (just before the big February quake.)  And the other December 2012 (relating to extra strengthening work on the roof and walls.)

“Final Reminder.” 139 High Street


Amendment On hold –  Final reminder

This is a final reminder that your Amendment is On Hold.
We have not received the requested information and cannot complete processing your application. The time frame in which to supply the requested information will expire on 24 January 2014.

Please provide the items requested within the time frame indicated. If you do not provide all the information within this time frame the BCA (Christchurch City Council) may refuse this building consent application under section 50 of the Building Act 2004.

The reason for the refusal is due to being unable to grant a consent under section 48 and section 49 of the Building Act 2004.

This letter is sent to the applicant and the owner, where possible.

Yours faithfully   Building Approvals Officer   Christchurch City Council


Call me suspicious but how come this has happened?

1. Final reminder?  I have not seen any previous reminders? We had an email conversation a month ago when I tried to get an exemption to gib the ceiling. But that’s it folks!

2.  We have had 12,000 earthquakes, we have been locked out of our building for months on end, and you want to cancel our amendments so that your figures look better? For heavens sake, show some understanding of the situation of the building owners trying to repair a heritage building. How hard was it for them to pick up the phone and find out why we are having trouble? It is very easy to send an email, but perhaps if they checked out the reality of the situation they might just like to reconsider the issue?

I have had to call in some assistance with this problem from the Heritage team at the CCC. Who are suddenly showing an interest in the street.  I am accepting their assistance gratefully.

The Heritage team at the council are proposing “some transitional work along High Street.  A key part of this work is to open up, as much as possible, the block of High Street that your building is in to create quality access to encourage more cyclists and pedestrians
to use this route.

We understand that you are very close to having your building open again
and we hope that this work could assist in bringing customers back to
this part of the city.”

Urban Design and Regeneration Unit
Strategy & Planning   Christchurch City Council

Hopefully some sort of reprieve can be negotiated!  (hot off the press: this has now been sorted, I think)

There is a deeper issue here…

There seems to be a lot of posturing going on in the Building Consents Department.  The truth of the issue may be that they are desperate to “improve” their clearance rates. Perhaps to justify the installation of the Crown Manager? The International Accreditation New Zealand (IANZ) cancelled their accreditation.  “IANZ scrapped its backing over fears the council was granting consents that could potentially put people and property at risk” link here:

Then we find out that  “The review showed more than 98 per cent of the resource consents received during 2012/2013 were processed within the statutory timeframes, and that minor issues which did exist were within the council’s capacity to resolve.”link here:

The only problems that they has identified are procedural issues. They have discovered no dangerous buildings or flawed consents.

So why did the building consents department lose it accreditation?  And why did the government install a Crown Manager, Doug Martin, to oversee the department?

I am not capable of making a through analysis of the issue. But this take over has been another political decision made in Wellington. Why?  The question one must ask is: Now that they know that the Consents Department was making only “minor procedural errors” why has this expensive Crown Manager remained in place?? Certainly they face a tsunami of consents as this “supposed Rebuild” begins, but I am sure a Crown Manager will not be making the Consents Department a comfortable place to work in.

The word down here is that this is trial run for a massive nationwide shake up all Building Consent departments in all the Councils. We will watch with Interest.

On the subject of the Government, has any one else noticed how they are keeping quiet on the Christchurch situation? It is very obvious to Christchurch peeps that Gerry has “had the word” and been told to lower his profile, Sutton is almost invisible, even CERA/CCDU/ The Property Group have managed to keep a lower profile.

One could suspect that National MP’s has told them to pull their heads in till after the Elections.

But I would say that!

A much more interesting issue is detailed in the Press this morning.  Another building owner bemoaning the lack of tenants for his new CBD building. Link here:

“Property developers warn buildings with “A-grade” rentals in the central business district cannot compete for tenants against cheaper, already-completed developments elsewhere. The warning comes as some developers and investors take their plans and money elsewhere in the face of high construction costs, reluctant tenants and uncertainty over car parking.”

What a surprise.  As I have repeatedly said,  CERA/CCDU locked out the building owners for 2 years, gave us no certainty, and still insist on persisting with the designations on our building.  Ho Humm where have they been?  For heavens sake, admit that you have stuffed up and find some solutions.  It’s not rocket science.

Gerry says there was still “high levels of confidence among local investors.”  ???  hello? The number of projects that have been abandoned is starting to mount up.

Its simple really

As “Property investor and former director of Harcourts Stephen Collins said the outskirts of the central city, had flourished in the “early days of recovery” while the CBD was effectively closed for business.

“People had to make decisions . . . there’s only so long businesses will be happy working in adverse conditions before they move on.”

Collins said before the earthquakes the CBD used to boast a range of buildings, from A-grade to C-grade office space, but post-quake it was being repopulated with new, expensive buildings that carried high rents.

Oh well, good thing our building will have a cheaper rent than the new stuff, it may be our saving grace.

Great article, finally some one talks about the counter productive nature of the prolonged lock out, which stopped any proper assessments of buildings that could have been repaired cheaper and faster (which would have kept more of the fabric of old Christchurch.) They thought it was easier to pull them down and build new, CERA/CCDU did not think through the consequences of throwing away 100 plus years of infrastructure and they just thought that it was miraculously going to be rebuilt, brand spanking new and FREE! Paid for by the insurance companies.  ha ha!

This rental issue now is the direct result of this prolonged lockout, when we could not gain access to our buildings using Independent Engineers and they would not listen to any dissenting views from anyone.  ie  Engineers such as Miyamoto Structural Engineers, CORE-( Heritage, Iconic and many other Groups that tried to get their views across and we were written off as idiots. Including us!

Incidentally,  all of the small trade contractors that come to our building have said the same thing.  Over and over again. They say that “CERA/CCDU have got it wrong”.

Ho Humm life at the bottom of the world is fun!


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