Christchurch rebuilding- St Asaph Street Roadworks…

I have been watching the new road works proceeding in St Asaph Street with some horror.  Not only is the new High Street entry from Madras Street damn dangerous (you have a constant stream of one way traffic behind you as you try to turn into the entry).  The St Asaph Street layout is a predictable debacle.  The road way has been narrowed significantly.  Now when you park (If you can find a park that is) you open your car door directly into the car lanes.  The width of the footpaths and the width of the bike lanes have made the road impossibly narrow.  Two buses can not manoeuver side by side.  I will not even discuss the loss of 200 odd parks.  Link to Press article here:

Apparently, according to my sources there was a meeting at the Chamber of Commerce a few days ago, where Peter Townsend facilitated  the meeting of mainly CBD business and
building owners, 3 Council Officials gave a presentation on the Accessible City program.

The Q & A session was “very vocal” and it was extended…..

(Peter Townsend was “terse” at the level of concern at the situation in St Asaph Street.  Massive loss of parking, narrow and dangerous road way, endless unfinished road works, total lack of concern for remaining retailers etc ).

Some of the issues raised in the Q & A afterwards:
30km Speed Limit,
CBD Traffic Management,
Parking (especially the removal of parking spaces),
concerns were expressed on the safety and practicality of the new redesigned pavement-cycle lane-parking-road streetscape,
ongoing roadworks
and the effects of these changes on local businesses.

St Asaph St was cited as an example by a number of attendees which backs
up my hunch this is an ongoing problem for this area.

Peter Townsend announced that a follow-up meeting will be held.  Looks like the Chamber of Commerce has deemed the issues raised to be significant and it will become engaged …

Thanks to my source! I am too unimportant to get an invite to such a meeting! Which is a bit weird really as I am directly affected by these road works, it has cost us dearly, as it has delayed our opening for the Christmas trade, as a pop up shop.  Reminder to self,  Repeat after me: “They do not care, we are collateral damage”.

2.12.16 The Press has now caught up with me, Link Here:

So… the constant closing and narrowing of roads in the CBD  has now hit a new level of dysfunctionality.

As far as I can work out the road layout was designed by the CERA/CCDU dictators,  when they had one of their “brain waves” some years ago.  The consultation was an absolute sham.  It will take a brave City Council Mayor to resolve the ongoing issues that have been foisted upon the city by the Government.

The late Architect, Ian Athfield was correct in saying that the one streets should have been removed from the central city.  They are a failed 1960’s experiment.

ho humn, I am going to take the day off!  As a busy retailer in the CBD I may as well.


At the moment this St Asaph/High/Madras/Ferry road Intersection has 10 white poles, (purpose unknown) and 18 traffic light poles.  Is this necessary?  really? Visual overload!


2.12.16 Late breaking news.  Article just proves that the council is toothless and totally dysfunctional. I bet that if the High Block was in Cashel Mall they would find a way of acting in a more proactive manner.

Business waits years for quake damage to neighbours to be fixed…

Oh dear, my infamy continues.

A well-balanced report by Rachel Graham  A Christchurch Reporter, discussing the issue of abandoned and unrepaired buildings.  It is rather topical at the moment due to the “slow train wreck” that is the Wellington CBD. 

I confess to a snort of irritation as I listened to Connal Townsend say that “The Arts situation is extremely rare”.  “Normal process is in place”.  ha ha…  he is out of date. I can name 8 buildings within 1 km off me  with the same issue. Maybe he should come and see me?

Director of the Greater Christchurch Group within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Kelvan Smith,: “Christchurch City Council also has powers and functions under the Building Act 2004. It can require building owners to undertake works under section 124 of the Building Act.”  Really?  you could have fooled me!  The question would have to be asked as to why it is not being used?  We had a meeting with the Operational Policy and Quality Improvement Manager at the CCC  to be told that they had no power to sort this?  lies, lies and more lies…

CCC: unavailable for comment.  No surprises here….

The Law is an ass.

Audio Link Here:

Article Here:‘we’re-a-dead-end’

ho hum.  I’m off to do some real work, rather than “buggerise around on Facebook all day” as our earthquake Minister Brownlee so eloquently put it.

Another beautiful day in Christchurch.

Connal Townsend, Kelvin Smith and the CCC.  They need to get out of their offices and come and see the reality.

Wellington edition of Shaky Town Blues, a guide to abandoned and derelict buildings. Part 191

How to survive being surrounded by derelict Buildings and Fencing in the Christchurch CBD especially written for Wellington Retailers,  How to cope with Derelict and Abandoned buildings and what to expect!

This is a survival guide for SME ‘s (Small and medium-sized enterprises) written by a building owner in the Christchurch CBD, for Wellington, Kaikoura and Blenheim retailers, based on our experience.

This follows on from a blog written in January 2015.  Building Owners Guide to Red Stickering.   Which is still very relevant.

After 6 years we thought we would cast some light on the inefficiency of the “Powers that be” in dealing with building abandonment issues.

First the back ground.  You are a business trying to survive and trade in a building that is surrounded by derelict buildings and fencing, in a now dead-end street.  You are the only building open in that section of street.  P1000572.JPG

Basic ground rules:

1.  Do not expect any help or assistance from anyone.   Your local Council’s will not know that you exist and Government officials ( CERA/CCDU/Regenerate/Otakaro or what ever alphabet soup they are currently using)  will be invisible.  (There will be the odd exception to this but they are few and far between, do not count on it.)

2. The fencing surrounding you will be put in place with great precision and fanfare.  That is the last time the “powers that be” will inspect it.  ( After 6 years it will be a mess and leak like a sieve. It becomes a looters magnet).

3. There will no security arrangements put in place.  Either for you or the derelict buildings. Alarm your building now.  The abandoned buildings are a “looters magnet”.

4.  There will be no infrastructure repairs done in your area, in our case for 6 years.

5. No contractor will want to work on your building. Especially if it is a Heritage Building.

6. There will be no foot traffic, for 6 years…. and still counting.

7. You will have No communication from anyone in power.  You will have no idea what is happening, remember at all times:  Say it after me:  “The powers that be” do not communicate”.

8. You will never find out who is in charge!  Think of it as a game.  Otherwise you will go insane. They will all duck for cover when you ring and they will dump your call for help as soon as they can.

9. Repeated attempts to get the other building owners to act, including the government (they purchased buildings in High Street and did nothing for 3 years ), will be ineffective and futile. Save your energy for a battle that you can win.

10.  There is no legislation in place for this situation. Otherwise I would not be writing this for you would I?
The government can fine a farmer for not wearing his helmet on a motor bike,  as a Health and Safety issue, but they can not stop a building owner from abandoning a dangerous building for 6 years.

11. There will be no mail delivery, rubbish collection or street sweeping,  for 6 years..  and counting.

12.  It is only possible to stay in your building if you have a niche customer base.  If your business relies on foot traffic close now.  It is retail suicide to stay open if you are dependent on foot traffic!  The public do not want to risk coming to your business if they feel unsafe in the area.  The Best advice I can give you is get web based as quickly as you can.  Working from home can work in certain instances, but it really is not worth the effort.  Close down and get another job.  (This is what we should have done).

13.  Do not be surprised if they close the street completely because they do not know that you are still there.  ie for road works  because they want  convenient car park.etc.

They do not know who you are and remember at all times that they do not Care, you are collateral damage and you are not important.   What did you say your name was?  Where are you from?

14.  They will lock you out of your building after every magnitude 5 quake.  They will require a Level 2 Engineers assessment before you can re-enter.  Insist that you see this assessment if you are a tenant in a building.  Also insist on seeing the DEE (Detailed Engineering Assessment).

15.  If you have to raid your own stock from a building that is abruptly closed, do so SAFELY.  Wear fluro, preferably with “Engineer” on the back,  carry a clip board, do it in broad day light.  Have spotters looking out for trouble ie any one else in fluro….  Take your accounts, wage books, grab your computer, chuck your stock in a wheelie bin. BE SAFE not reckless!  (Stock will be pillaged, looted overnight if you leave the building unattended).

Sad but true!

“Professor Ilan Noy, chair in economic disasters at Victoria University, tells Wallace why he thinks it’s a bad idea and discusses the likely economic impact of this week’s quakes”.

It is well worth listening to this!

Be prepared for the long haul and do not sweat over the small stuff.

I know that you will think that I am exaggerating, I am not and you will find that out.


Earthquake Pains continue…part 190

Ah, and so it begins again…  The “powers that be” begin to repeat the same mistakes that they made here in Christchurch.   It starts with a lack of consultation and a lack of communication…

  • I feel the pain of the Building owners in Wellington who have just found out that they will not be allowed to retrieve their stock and fittings as a result of the impending demolition of the building they were in.  “Staff in the four shops at the base of the nine-storey building have not been allowed back in, and the daughter of one said it was “a big shock” to find out on Sunday that they could lose all their stock and fittings..” Link Here:      It is likely that the stock and fittings will be shared out amongst the workers demolishing the building and a proportion will end up on Trade Me.  This is what happened here in Christchurch.
  • I was puzzled by a Wellington Building owner who remarked that he had not supplied the Wellington Council with his Building assessment details.   Huh…. you have to be kidding me. They demanded our assessments in triplicate.  I think that this will alter very quickly as the Wellington Council sorts out it procedures….  You will all be required to supply Detailed Engineering Evaluations in the following weeks and months.
  • I also know the pain of the residents in Waiau who are having trouble accessing their homes.  As a “Red Zone road block ” has been created locking them out. We were locked out for many, many months.  I had hoped that the “Powers” had learnt some lessons from the Christchurch situation…  My words of advice?  Find another way around the fencing.  Go for a walk, come in from the side, fly in, parachute in, do what ever you need to do. Tell them to naff off…..   Make your own judged decisions regarding your personal safety.  Be safe and not reckless.   Link Here:     “Hurunui District Mayor Winton Dalley said about 20 farms and another 30 households in Mt Lyford had been cut off from essential supplies of water and assistance as a result.  “We have had residents locked out of being able to return to their homes, we’ve had emergency services and utility services including our engineers denied access to the area to carry out essential repairs to homes and properties in the area.” Dalley said he had been “battling” with NZTA and CDC all day to get limited access to the road for residents and essential services.”
  • I also wonder if any thought has been given to how the South Island freight network is going to cope.  The numbers of trucks on the Lewis Pass road will increase by approximately 700 per day and there will be a huge increase in road traffic (4 fold).  The increased costs of freighting will inevitably be passed on to consumers in the South Island.   I am expecting massive cost increases in freight costs and a flow on to grocery prices.  It will put a further burden on the already struggling Christchurch residents.
  • I will not even bother discussing the debacle that occurred over the tsunami warning that should have been given promptly and clearly.   I listened to the radio at 12.15 am approx.  and heard a warning for the South Coast.  The South Coast??????   huh???   of what? of where?

Ho hum.. the joys of living in a quake zone continue… Stay safe, time to refill the water bottles and tie down the TV.


How not to repair a Heritage Building in the Christchurch CBD.. Have another big shake!

Wa hoo, that was a roller coaster ride.  It went on for ever…  well maybe 60 seconds.  It is the first one in 6 years that had me under the doorway.

Quick up date: 

I checked High Street very early this morning. Just in case they lock us out again…..  There is not a brick out-of-place.  Some very very minor gib damage, and no immediately apparent structural damage. ( A few gib screws have popped).  A good result!

Surprisingly the whole row is still standing.

The Engineer will have to do Another Level 2 assessment, but it looks Very Good to me.

It looks to me as if Christchurch has been very lucky.

I am devastated that the Christchurch experience has not been heeded and many houses in Canterbury/Marlbrough have had unreinforced brick chimneys collapse through their roofs. A very simple safety inspection is very important…   Put it on your must do list!

Some links below for my out-of-town cousins!

Stay safe today. I’m  off to check the water bottles.


How not to repair a Heritage Building in the Christchurch CBD…. part 188

Humm…..  I wonder…

James Lunday.   Urban Designer and Economic Development Entrepreneur. Link Here:

James Lundy also features in the Gerard Smyth’s Christchurch Dilemmas Series. Link Here:

also here:

James Lunday has been employed now by Regenerate Christchurch.   Huh?   How the heck did that come about?  Are we talking about the man who has consistently been telling CERA/CCDU/REGENERATE CHRISTCHURCH  ETC  (whatever they are called now)  for the last 6 years that they have this Recovery all wrong?  The man who told them in 2011 at a meeting I attended said to “tell CERA to ……. off,”  that: they were demolishing too many buildings, that the “Precincts plans” were fatally flawed, that the Convention Centre is the wrong design in the wrong place and do we need one anyway?

Nah, this can not be.

They are 2 possibilities:
1.  The Powers that be have finally realised that they need some expert advice.   
2.  They want to shut him up.  He has been too vocal in his criticism.  

I hope that it is option 1.  (My understanding is that Otakaro has clearly told the Christchurch City Council that they will not renegotiate or alter the Blueprint design that they have created).

Gosh, I am so cynical!

The delicious irony of this is that Regenerate Christchurch, has moved into the new Peeble’s Consortium building right behind the Duncan’s Buildings on High Street.

The beauty of this is that every time they look out the window they will see this!  A daily reminder that they have got this recovery all Wrong! 

What’s the old saying…. revenge is a dish best served cold.p1000413

What is new in High Street?

  • We are still stalled by our Engineer and the lack of a PS1 for the CCC Building consent.  It is driving me to distraction.
  • The propping of the 8 Duncan’s Units that the Peeble’s group have purchased, will happen in Feb/March next year.
  • The road works are still stopping us from opening our pop up shop.  The contractors just never seem to Finish anything.
  • I have heard that the Peeble’s  Group wish to demolish the backs of the Duncan’s Buildings.  Given that Resource Consents gave me a hard time,  a few weeks ago, when they Thought that I was going to disturb/demolish our back brick wall,  I wonder if this is feasible???

Ho hum, life gets interesting…..

PS  Pix of 4 weeks progress on my house!


How not to Repair a Heritage Building in The Christchurch CBD…part 187

Marketing the CBD.

I note with considerable surprise that there is No Marketing Plan to encourage businesses and customers back to the Christchurch CBD.  I consider that creating a functioning CBD is one of the most important issues that the city faces.  We need to: encourage tourists to extend the number of nights they stay in the city,  encourage Business’s to migrate back to the CBD (not just bars and cafes), we need to encourage the locals back.    For this to happen it is necessary to get the business owners to re-engage in the CBD to bring an eclectic mix of businesses that are not duplicated in the malls.

This has not happened so far.  There are, in my view, a number of reasons for this.

  • The CBD is a mess, it is a constant series of road works that are being done in a hap hazard, ad hoc, incoherent, uncoordinated manner. We have dodgy footpaths, contractors vehicles and trucks parked everywhere,  as well as derelict buildings, empty gravelled dusty sites re-purposed as car parks, struggling cafes and bars, disillusioned, bored and wandering tourists, a bus depot on one of the nicest central sites in the CBD and a marked lack of specialist shops.   The locals hate the CBD, can you imagine what a tourist thinks?
  • The lack of parking!   I will not even bother to discuss the one way streets system, that should have been removed  that are now narrow and cluttered and the massive loss of car parking. The slow progress on re-building the parking buildings is a farce.
  • Combine this with the lack of a decision regarding the repair of the Anglican Cathedral in the square, the repair/restoration of this building is a no brainer in my view.  It is a tourist icon/magnet!
  • The CBD is boring.  I have been watching the commentary trying to suggest that the CBD is Innovative & edgy.  There is nothing in the CBD that signals Innovative & Edgy to me.   I notice in this mornings Press 18.10.16  “The Christchurch City Council announced on Monday that it would merge Canterbury Development Corporation (CDC), Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism (CCT) and some activities undertaken by the council’s events unit, into a single organisation”.  It  looks like more tinkering and no real meaningful action.  Link Here:
  • Rents are too high. Until the rents come down, the CBD is not going to attract the eclectic mix that is needed to make it vibrant. It is the smaller retailers that add diversity.

I am puzzled that neither CERA/CCDU/Otakaro/CCC/Regenerate (or whoever is in charge now?) or the Central City Business Association has not seen the need for some sort of marketing plan. Or at the very least, some communication with the business/building owners in the CBD.  As a building/business owner in the CBD we have had no communication from any of these organisations regarding the long-term plans for going forward. Oh well, there is no point in trying to engage in a conversation with them, they know best.  Tui moment going on here!

Why is no marketing plan?   I can make some very basic observations.

  • The Mayor, Lianne Dalziel, has long-held ties to the East side,  she has been balancing conflicting interests.  If she is seen to “favour the CBD” she faces criticism from the eastern suburb residents who feel that their roading and recovery needs have not been met. She needs to have a hard look at her priorities. She has them wrong.
  • The CCC seems to be operating in a silo,  unaware/uninterested about what is happening in the CBD.  They also seem to be desperately scared of making a decision, afraid that they will get it wrong perhaps?  In fact, any decision is better than no decision. At least we could try to make it work.
  • Her Councillors lack business experience.  It will be interesting to see if the new Central City representative Deon Swiggs, can improve the situation.  I look forward to seeing how he progresses.
  • Constant delays in the new building projects is sapping enthusiasm for rebuilding and re engaging.  The latest being Fletcher’s delaying their new housing development in the east frame. Link here:   as well as numerous delayed CCC projects: Link Here:

ho humm  interesting  times.  I am not holding my breath for an improvement.

I see that Otakaro Ltd  still seem appears to be obsessed with art works and the building of monuments. These seem to be the only developments that they appear to be able to proceed with.  I notice that there is yet more work being done on the Margaret Mahy play ground.  Really?  It is time that they pulled their heads out of the sand and had a close look at the city. Spending more money on a play ground does not sort out the very basic issues in the CBD. Link Here:

It was with some surprise that I spotted this comment by  Otakaro Limited Chief executive Albert Brantley.  He made it when discussing the imminent closure of one lane of Durham Street, a major southward thoroughfare, for 5 and a half months.  “People are urged to keep supporting central city businesses, many of whom have endured years of rebuild road works, but to be aware of potential delays.  Link here:

I wonder if he really has any idea of the colossal ongoing disruption that we have faced in the last 6 years?  (not only with roading) they are not letting the city recover.  Any business that remains in the CBD is likely to be finding life very difficult, there is a shortage of foot traffic, parking, access/egress is a nightmare,  both the locals and businesses have abandoned the city centre.  Those of us left want out.  There appears to have been no consideration given to anyone foolish enough to remain, let alone trying to assist them. We are in an information vacuum, lately the only information I can get comes from the developers rebuilding in our block, the Peebles group, and the workers on the roading contractors work force, who are doing their best to accommodate us, but are facing an up hill battle.  (I still have no ETA on when the road works will finish, so we can not reopen).

So Whats new in High Street.

  • I spotted this interesting link a few days ago regarding the High Street development  on the rebuilt Mckenzie and Willis site. Great work happening here.
  • I have been watching the latest High Street “issue” with a considerable amount of amusement.  The council has installed 19 traffic light poles on one small intersection.  I note that prior to the earthquakes this intersection had no lights at all.  It is a classic case of overkill. When you look at the intersection it is a sea of yellow poles,  definite case of  visual overload.  Link Here:     The CCC felt the need to defend the overkill in a follow-up article: Link Here:     Followed by Johnny Moore’s comment.  We are starting to agree with each other, that’s worrying Johnny!
  • Interestingly I see that there appears to be a similar number of light poles on the High/St Asaph Street intersection.  This new intersection is going to negatively affect the High Street traffic flow. It is going to make access/egress more difficult for High Street.  The reason lower High Street was so run down pre earthquake was the closing off of the lower end of High Street in the 1960’s.  It took years for it to recover.  In fact it was only in the early 2000’s that the area started to recover.
  • I notice that some one has decided to call the new lane way behind the Duncan’s Buildings “Little Tuam”.  Humm not my first choice, I hope that this has not been set in concrete.  “Duncan’s lane” seems more obvious to me, in memory of the original land and building owner.  The Duncan’s Building was designed for Miss E.R Duncan, in 1905, who resided here and ran a stationery and fancy goods store.
  • I see that the Peebles Group  office tenant for his new building has hit a speed bump.  Drat and blast!  They will be disappointed.” Wynyard had a lease from Peebles Group over 1000 sqm of the McKenzie & Willis development where construction workers were still putting finishing touches on parts of the development”.

Odd Spot.

I notice, in an article in the Sunday Feature Christchurch News,  August 31st 1957, an article about Christchurch pot holes.  Some things never change. Maybe we should reactivate this competition?

We have just re-discovered these in our factory, the first Sunday paper printed in New Zealand.  Printed by A.B.D. Clarke from  August 17 1957 – April 26 1958,  for the publisher R.G. McGregor, at the registered office 232A Tuam Street Christchurch.

They are on their way to the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington for safe keeping. As apparently these are the only copies in existence.  Nice one!


Sunday News Feature Christchurch August 31st 1957


PS Progress has been made on my new house.  After a false start in 2013, we are now back at foundations stage. ye ha.  I might just get out of this rental next year……img_20161024_120148162_hdr