Building Consent troubles in Christchurch….. still…..

So what is new in the life of the beleaguered High Street building owners?

Our Building consents amendment is still stalled.   The CCC have a bad habit of asking “not quite relevant questions” that mean you have to go back to your overworked Engineer and that stalls the process. We all know that the Engineers in the city are hopelessly overloaded, the last thing he needs is not “relevant” questions. They still have not cleaned up their act.  And the $10 million that they have spent on a “Crown Manager” has not helped US one little bit.  The irony is that all I want to do is “gib a sodding ceiling with fyre line.”  I am now considering replacing this ceiling with “like for like” ie what we removed will be replaced..  So instead of being fire safe, I will replace it with the original material….  Rimu tongue and groove. That’s fire safe eh?  NOT!  That would mean I can by-pass the issues I am having with the fire safety aspects of the amendment. Stupidity knows no bounds really.  (I was talking to another building owner the other day and he called it the ” City council consent disease”, a disease whereby they are so busying keeping their paper work neat and tidy and covering their asses, that they have forgotten why they are there.)

On the subject of paper work, and trust me here, I spend hours every day on the stuff, all earthquake generated: Although we produced the paper work for CERA in January (the long-awaited Detailed Engineering Evaluation)  it took 5 months for CERA to make safe the surrounding buildings so that we could open our front door “safely.”  It took less than 8 hours to re-mortar the neighbours parapet and less than 8 hours to fill a skip with the loose rubbish that was on the adjacent building.  (note that this was not a danger to anyone, but did not look pretty!)

So what does it mean?  Actually nothing.  The street is a “pedestrian free” area.  The fencing is so intrusive that pulling it back will make little difference to us at this stage. It hugs our front door line and does not inspire confidence. The street requires considerably more intervention than this. A fact the CCDU/CERA “the powers that be” seem unable to grasp.

Still it means that in the middle of the night when I get home I do not have to hunt for my glasses and a torch to open the locked gate. That is an advantage.

Due to the lack of security in the street at night, we have started to park our vehicles in the building.  I was mightily annoyed last saturday night when some creeps decided to smash the windscreen of my car- and it was inside the cordon!   really safe eh…..  Unfortunately the police did not catch the offenders, although they came quickly for which I am grateful.  Pity! The lighting and security down here is hopeless.  My “private security guard” (employed by the poly technic) was not in the area at the time….  He keeps an eye out for me as well, nice man!  Which is helpful and I am grateful for the extra pair of eyes.

I have attached a pix of the new fencing arrangement.  Still it is progress of a sort.

 

Out of the cordon.

Out of the cordon.

On another note:

The City “Doughnut” argument has been a hop topic lately.  Much to the amusement of the building owners, who are getting no pleasure out of saying.  “We told you so”.  They would not listen and are still not listening.  Link here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/10195251/Architect-warns-of-doughnut-city-risk

Mr Brownlee has been frantically trying to deny that the city is a doughnut, but it is undeniable  and is so obvious now that even the rest of the city has cottoned on, finally!

The government is now so frantic to prove us wrong that we are starting to get the pre-election hand outs!  This one has amused me no end.
http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/10242273/Government-office-cluster-for-city

Those of us with long memories will remember Mr Brownlee telling us that 2500 civil servants would come to the central city.  This number has shrunk in the wash some what and become 1100 and falling. Link here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/10239867/1100-civil-servants-to-move-into-CBD  

The sad bit about it is that we are now seeing some projects being announced now.  3.5 years too late.  (But just before the elections.)  It is obvious to everyone in Christchurch that development here has been deliberately stalled to allow National to “pull the rabbits out of the hat” prior to the elections.

We have: $30 million going to a park  ( Very useful huh!) http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/10184473/Mahy-park-price-tag-an-insult

We have the Avon River project: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/10227583/Avon-River-plans-altered-to-avoid-flooding  (for a mere $100 million)

We have the Memorial area for a mere $10 million.  We certainly need a memorial to those that died that day, but $10 million?  : http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/city-centre/10259799/Avon-site-for-quake-memorial

Do you notice a theme developing here?

The political parties are finally playing politics with the CHCH situation.  Unfortunately it is way too late. And we had hoped for better treatment.

I had a walk around the city centre the other night.  Firstly a little old lady in the city centre sounds like a bad idea you would think?  It was so empty only the drunks and homeless have not abandoned it! It was depressing.  Building after building is still boarded up, there are empty sites everywhere as well as rubble and decay.  I had trouble finding any thing open to get a feed or a drink.  Sad but true. Pathetic really.

There was a very good comment made a few days ago by Mark Waller of EBOS.   I have been amazed at the slowness of the “so-called” business leaders in commenting on the situation here.  I guess that some of them are so busy making money out of the rebuild that they have forgotten to look at the bigger picture. Which is, in a pine nut shell:  if there are very few business’s in the city that are surviving and thriving and the people do not have jobs to go to,  there is no money flowing through the economy, therefore the tax take will be down. Do not be fooled by the figures, the only reason New Zealand has a “rock star economy” is that it is Re-Insurance money pouring into Christchurch.  At the end of the day this flow of money will cease.  National does not appear to have made any structural changes to the economy in the last 6 years.  They have relied on the earthquakes to provide the momentum.  As well as resting on the returns from the agricultural sector. They would be happy to have an earthquake every 3 years. The link here for Mark Waller’s comments: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/10246165/Slow-Christchurch-rebuild-a-tragedy

I notice that there is the odd comment coming through from experts about the rebuild in the city:  Unfortunately these comments are rarely published and more often than not, not followed through and analysed, mostly they are  “poo pooed” by the “powers that be”  Link here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/10259042/Professor-warns-of-a-shabby-future

On a more humourous note I see Johnny Moore has been discussing the reasons for the difference in development  between High Street and Victoria Street.  I see that he took a beating over his comments. He was spot on!  One issue that he did not really cover was that High Street has been deliberately held back, as the whole central city was, by the red Zone fencing.  We were locked out of the city for so long that most of the building owners walked away.  Excellent opinion piece.  Link here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/opinion/columnists/johnny-moore/10225115/Victoria-St-up-High-St-struggling

His comments were bang on!  “CCDU has released a document seeking feedback on the South Frame. As I read through it I was horrified by how many extra stupid rules they intend to saddle poor property owners with.”

I have just spent a number of what i consider “wasted” days writing a submission on the draft plans.  (Wasted because consultation is not what CCDU wants or listens to, the exception being if you are a large developer or large building owner.)  The submission maps we were given to work from were so small and conflicting that it was impossible to read or discern the detail, there was no roading plan, no way of working out who owns all the new lane ways, and heaps of rules about who is allowed to rent the buildings and a myriad of other silly concepts. (I will not bore you with a copy of my submission.) ha ha!
Everyone I have spoken to about these plans made the same comment as Johnny Moore: “How’s this for a case of marketing folk writing planning rules? In the policy dealing with the Innovation Precinct it is written into the rules that this precinct will enable innovative offices, commercial services and businesses to locate in the area “supported by a range of complementary activities, which will create an area where people and ideas can collide””.

yeah right and this means what?

Johnny took a pasting for his opinion piece.  He followed it up with this one: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/opinion/columnists/johnny-moore/10250529/Its-not-that-I-don-t-care-about-High-Street  One word of advice Johnny, do not apologise, you were 100% correct in your assessment!  I think he and I should Re-start up the “Lower High Street” revitalization group!  I have been giving this a lot of thought and I think it is time for our own lobby group.  Watch out Johnny I am about to spring this idea on you.

When I get a minute I will work out how many days we have to go before we hear if these buildings are going to be confiscated by the CCDU  I think it is another 8 years…… I have to get the calculator out.

ho humm.  Slow progress, but it is at least progress!

 

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