How not to repair a Heritage building in the Christchurch CBD Part 173

Well here we are, 5 years on since the February 2011 earthquake that decimated Christchurch.  On Monday there will be tears shed, politicians will say soothing words and the verbosity will flow.  (I notice this morning that we have lots of feel good articles in the Press about how well we are all doing and what great achievements have been made, how the city is moving forward and we are nearly half way there.  Wherever there is???? I will talk about High Street in a later post).

All very nice and good.  But behind the scenes there is another story.  The one that no one likes to talk about. This is about those of us still stuck in Insurance hell.

Tomorrow at 12 noon in the Christchurch Square a protest is occurring.  I will be there.


So whats this about???  This is the back story about those of us stuck in “insurance limbo land”.  Some say that its all our own fault that we are in this situation,  ie we have not accepted insurance company offers, we are greedy, we think that our houses were worth more etc.  In most cases this is not true.  It is due to the stalling tactics being practiced by the insurance companies, it is about poor repair strategies being imposed on home owners by insurance companies, it is about poor workmanship by contractors, it is about multiple assessments by untrained assessors. The list of variables is endless.

It’s About Deny Delay Defend.  The tactic being used by the Insurance companies to stall payments as long as they can, a book by Jay M. Feinman describes the practice in all its glory.

There have been many articles written about this policy and I will not bore you with the details.  Goggle is your friend here.

So if you can, come and protest with us, because next time this may be you struggling to get a house after 5 years of waiting. 


5 years of progress by Southern Response, Benchmark and Arrow.

For me it is about finding out that the consented plans supplied by the building company for my new house actually do not comply with the building code.  There are multiple errors in the design: Errors in wind loading, water issues, foundation issues all leading to a redesign being needed.  There appears to have been a deliberate “fudging” of the consent by the designers. Strange “omissions” of detail.   It is with some surprise that I note that these issues were not picked up by the CCC Building Consents Department.  ( Those of you who know my history with Building consents will laugh).

Like Johnny Moore, I am having trouble “Getting over it”   If I hear that phrase once again this weekend I will have a full out whinge.

“Wouldn’t that be nice to just get on with it? There’s nothing I’d like more. Sadly, for plenty of people they’re finding it had to move forward when they’re still waist-deep in the quagmire that is the Rebuild”.   Nice comment Johnny.

Ho Humm, tomorrow will be fun.  Kiwis need to protest more, the French have this well sorted out.  Bring on the tractors and loads of manure.




How not to repair a Heritage Building in the Christchuch CBD, Part 167….

So, whats new in Lower High Street…..

Most of the Billen’s building is gone as is the mess that was behind the frontage of McKenzie and Willis.  So that is an improvement.

Billens and McKenzie sites finally clear.

Billens and McKenzie sites finally clear.

Demolition contractors will start in the next few days “making safe 163 High Street”.

Section 38

Section 38 “make safe” about to begin on last unit in Duncans Building.

The Tuam St/High Street intersection is STILL a sea of road cones. It is pure incompetence on the part of the roading contractors that this area is not sorted. It is manifestly unfair on the few businesses trying to make a living in this area.

The hopeless progress on the High Tuam Intersection. A intolerable situation for retailers. 8-9 months progress!

The hopeless progress on the High /Tuam  Sts Intersection. An intolerable situation for retailers. 8-9 months progress!

I finally got our amended building consent from the CCC and we have gibbed and started plastering our ceiling and relaid a small section of floor that we had not seen for many years, that turned out to be seriously “munted”. ( (Not level).

It took 18 months to get permission to gib this ceiling. There is a serious bottle neck in the Fire safety department of consents at the CCC.

It took 18 months to get permission to gib this ceiling. There is a serious problem in the Fire safety department of Building consents at the CCC.

  • I also notice that it is Heritage week in Christchurch. I was surprised that the tours do not include High Street.  Pity.
  • I Notice that Barnaby Bennett took another shot at the Labour party in his latest opinion piece on Public Address.  I also see that that Press did not print it.  (With apologies to Tony Milne, who worked tirelessly for CHCH Central in his attempt to take the seat).

“The local MPs, including Ruth Dyson, Megan Woods and Eugenie Sage, have worked tirelessly and through huge workloads, but the Opposition en masse, the leadership, along with the national media, have failed to represent the scale of the issues here.  It’s all been seen as too hard, too detailed and too boring. The result of this is that the people here have not been well represented, or protected, throughout the biggest disaster in living memory in New Zealand”.

I agree with his views.   The Government and the opposition have failed to represent us. I pop the link here:

Moving on….

It is with some irritation I have spent 2 weeks writing a submission for “Consultation number 4”.  Regarding the High/St Asaph/Ferry Road/Madras St intersection.  It has been hours of work. For the accessible city – transport projects proposed changes.

high st entrance

Oh what an irony, the plan that they propose locks off 2 of the 3 egress points from the street.  A situation that the retailers in the street have been fighting against for 40 plus years.  As long as I have been in High street and I hate to confess that it is nigh on 35 years, every few years the Council would come up with some new “idea” to shut off access to the street.  What it actually meant was that they could not cope with the diagonal nature of the street.  It just does not fit their roading models. All the models are designed to cope with a rectangular pattern. (CERA/CCDU have fallen into the same trap).

The plan that they have come up with is similar to all the others.  This latest version locks  off the egress BOTH to the west and the east and narrows the road way at the entry/exit point.  (Given that the street has no back access and heavy trucks are a regular feature of High Street, this plan is in the loony tunes basket).   It forces all our customers to egress thru a narrow slip way to the north.  The so-called “proposal” also reduces access to a narrow slip way with an awkward entrance. (What a bunch of flaming idiots.  They seem to have this bizarre idea that our customers do not want to be able to get anywhere near us).

The really annoying bit is that this plan was produced by CERA/CCDU or whatever they call themselves these days.  But the delicious irony is that it is delivered and packaged to us as consultation as a Christchurch City Council initiative.

I thought this nonsense had stopped.  After 5 years we are still being ruled by Wellington bureaucrats.

Well, when I got off my perch and checked it out, I found that the Christchurch City Council had not even seen this plan 24 hours before it was sent out to us. Collaboration and Co- operation???? hummn,  just more of the same treatment that the business and property owners have faced for the last 5 years.

I might add, I received the document in my mail box on the 23th September.  Consultation was swift indeed and had to be in by the 8th of October.  Really that is consultation????  Just who are you kidding.????? These are complicated documents and it takes weeks to get all the details required in a meaningful format.

I thought that an air of co-operation had finally descended on CERA/CCDU and that they had realised that they needed to stop acting like dictators and buzz off to what ever Wellington planet that they came from.

“Following the discussion, cabinet recommended a more collaborative approach between Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee and Dalziel”.

yeah right!

Copy of Submission below,  for the really dedicated High Street fan!   Stop reading now if you want!  🙂

Unfortunately I believe the chances of winning this battle is slim and I suspect that many of the flaky decisions being made about roading in the city will need to be re addressed as soon as we get rid of the “powers that be”. Unfortunately as a small owner operator I do not have the connections needed to be noticed.  So I cheerfully continue this blogging until they top messing with me and start acting in a professional and thoughtful manner.

Apologies for the detail. The highlighted bits are the summary bits!

Re proposal for the  High St/Madras St/St Asaph St. Intersection

I am the only retailer/building owner and resident currently open and operating in the lower section of High Street,  so I will take the time to explain the situation here.  High Street is now trapped between 3 one way streets.  Further more, there has been a systematic, progressive dismantling of the historic “High Street diagonal link” as each section of High Street has been physically isolated from each other, often with “humps and bumps”.

The High Street Business Association has fought for the last 40 + years to keep the access and egress open and keep traffic flowing.   About 50 years ago when access to Ferry road was originally closed off and the one way system installed, High Street became a sea of empty buildings with boarded up windows. The street had become “too difficult” to get into and out off. It took 30 years for this situation to be reversed, slowly the street became tenanted by niche retailers and became a “destination”.  Lower High Street will now have one of only a few “Heritage Buildings”   (ie Duncans Buildings 1905)  left in the city and It is vitally important that we do not get isolated. We need traffic to be able to pass through the street and Short term park without too many obstacles.

I note also, that there is a No “Street Scape plan” for High St, this means that this current “proposal” is being implemented in isolation and is un-coordinated.  It is a piecemeal process, which involves picking off the intersections only, as has happened already at Tuam and Lichfield streets.

There are only going to be a very limited number of retailers in the lower High Street Block.  To survive this far from the CBD we will need to be specialised/destination shops.   We do not rely on foot traffic, nor do we rely on the polytechnic students. This means customers require easy access and egress: ie the ability to be able to pick up and drop off.

We also need constant turn over of car parks. Every 20 – 30 minutes ideally.  (This needs to be policed much more rigorously than in the past as both High  and St Asaph street’s have become cheap, long-term car parks for the Poly technic students and the surrounding building owners.)

Our Customers need access to parks within a reasonable  walking distance. Currently the parking building in Lichfield St is not available and the inner city free bus is not operating.

High Street needs traffic flow to stay vibrant and appealing.

The Proposal:

It makes the access and egress of Lower High Street more difficult and visually unappealing.

– A vehicle turning into Madras St (from St Asaph St) will have to cross over the 2 lanes of Madras St, to reach a  position in the far left lane to get into High St.  (Vehicles are likely to have a queue of cars behind them coming from St Asaph St  and also are likely to be exposed to oncoming traffic from Madras Street as the lights change.   The vehicle must also cross over the cycle lane.  There is no “safe area” other than the cycle lane. It needs a better turn off area.  

The right hand turning lane on St Asaph Street into Madras St – Will become more congested, as vehicles are both turning into High St and also wanting to go straight ahead on Madras Street.  

It is being made visually unappealing to turn into Lower High Street.  Customers face a TIGHT,  left hand turn, close to an intersection.  (It is going to be similar to the entrance from Manchester Street into the middle block of High Street. It is hard to find the  narrow entrance)    Visually it is being made difficult and unappealing.  This is not helpful to a street that is likely to be niche retail.

The  existing right hand slip way/turning lane from High Street into St Asaph St  gives our customers the option of getting direct access to the One Way Street  heading west with ease and safety.   
 The turn also creates the ability for “vehicles to go around the block”.  This is vital to any retail area.  

The proposal to get from High Street into St Asaph St will now require a 5 block detour, via Tuam/Barbadoes/St Asaph St’s,  or the alternative is  across Tuam, further down High Street than via Manchester Street, an even more difficult route.  This turn is VITAL to High Street in my opinion. A small narrow egress, cobblestoned and giving cyclists right of way, is easily achievable.  It does not require lights, as it operates as a free turn now.  (It will also break up what is going to be a large expansive of ugly asphalt.)
I see no reason to change the status quo.

The buildings along High Street DO NOT have off-street loading facilities and rely on the surrounding streets for delivery of goods.  The narrowing of the roadway at the High Street entrance/ intersection will make it difficult for heavy vehicles to access the street.

Our suppliers use large trucks to deliver product (heavy paper) to us.  We do not have access to the pedestrian lane way (that is going to be created behind the west side of High St).  The turning lane at the Madras Street Intersections is going to be too narrow  and too tight a turn to easily allow these truck access.  Currently large vehicles are having trouble leaving the street through the Madras Street slip way from Lower High Street, I am regularly watching drivers of heavy vehicles having a number of attempts at positioning themselves to get around the corner into Madras St.  It is too tight for large heavy traffic. And under this proposal there is no alternative route.

There will be a further loss of car parks/loading zone space in High St. This proposal means the loss of  part of the loading zone in front of 129 High Street.  This loading zone over the last 10 years has been extremely useful to both couriers and for short-term pick up and drop off’s. It should not be further reduced in size.

The widening of the footpath on the St Asaph Street (near the corner of High St/St Asaph st-along side 129 High Street). This is a dark, cold area, with limited foot traffic, there seems little point in narrowing off the street further at this point, and further reducing parking in this area. In effect that area will be asphalt and is and will continue to be unattractive.

The loss of the Ferry road link.  This is unfortunate as it further limits egress options from High street.  It is particularly useful for heavy traffic and a quick link to the east.

This proposal makes the implementation of the long-term CCC plan to extend the tram route to the restored Catholic Cathedral much more difficult to implement.  This is a shame as having the tram pass down a restored Heritage Street to a restored Heritage Cathedral is necessary addition to the tourist tram link as well as allowing transport options for the poly students heading towards the Lichfield bus depot.  

It is time for a parking building in the area.  This could also be used by the business owners, It would solve some of the parking issues.  (The proposed loss of 109 car parks adds to the areas problems, it does not solve them) A long-term solution to the parking issues involves the building of more parking building on edges of the city for staff/ owners to park and easy access to buildings.  Walking long distances with parcels, stock is not an option.

 Trees.    Large-leaved lime trees grow up to 35m tall.   35 metres  is too high. ( High st already has problems with the, currently, 13 metre high trees that we have with acorns and leaves).  The almost constant year round leaves gives maintenance problems and blocks roof and road gutters. “Go native”.  I suggest something a little smaller.

 History tells me that the work I have gone to here is pointless as there will be no real meaningful consultation with the building owners for the past 5 years.

 What a way to run a recovery.   

ps.  this is what 5 years progress on my house looks like.

5 years of progress by Southern Response, Benchmark and Arrow.

5 years of progress by Southern Response, Benchmark and Arrow.

How not to repair a Heritage building in the Christchurch CBD

  • Do we still own our building???? Now 796 days since designated “South frame, Innovation Precinct” – Designation to be in place until 2022. ( ie They can take the building any time between now and 2022)
  • High Street Building amendment details still at the council. Since January 2014. I am trapped between the CCC building consents Department and the Engineer. They are arguing about: “Justify that the new steel members (columns) will not have a detrimental effect on the stability of the party walls in a fire”.  This is plainly idiotic.  Do you want us to strengthen or not??

So whats new in High Street?

The Billens Building and Mckenzie and Willis remain in the same condition as before. Here is a pretty picture of the back.  This is what I look at every day. Cheerful eh?

The Back of McKenzie and Willis and Billens building.

The Back of McKenzie and Willis and Billens building.

So no progress here.

The 7 shops owned by CERA have had nothing done to them for 4 years now.

Here is a pix of the back. I have been told that :“Further design work for the partial and full strengthening options of these properties is required and we are in the process of procuring these services. Following this work a decision will be made on the level of strengthening that will be undertaken.”   Pigs fly!

CERA owns these 7 units, No progress here.

CERA owns these 7 units, No progress here.

I was invited last week, to the opening of the “High Street Transitional Project”   I was happy to attend.  It perhaps should be more correctly labeled the “Upper High Street Transitional Project”.  It was great to see the sheep.  They add a wee bit of humour to a hopeless situation. Link Here:

Sheep Road Cones

Sheep Road Cones

It has been suggested that our end of the street could do with some livestock as well, and what better than some “Broken sheep for a broken street?”

Broken sheep for a Broken street!

Broken sheep for a Broken street!

Sheep would be appropriate as we have plenty of fencing to keep them in and no traffic to damage them further, They will not escape as nothing much else has in the last 4 years.

It is an irony that CERA/CCDU/CCC  and all the other “powers that be” are putting so much energy into: water way/river projects, parks, gap filler, sheep cones, planter boxes, sculptures, artworks et al, but at the end of the day every interaction that I have with them leaves me still no better off.  I get no resolution, no answers, no meaningful assistance. Frustrating eh!  Just maybe they do not have a clue about what would really make a difference?

Perhaps we could begin commercial grazing?

Perhaps we could begin commercial grazing?


I have had to do another submission to the CCC over  “part 2” of the roading plans for Manchester and Tuam streets.  This is token consultation, as the CCC is firing the bullets for CCDU,  there was a noticeable lack of information on which to make a judged decision.

No one else in our end of the street bothered to submit anything, as far as I know.  There was not a lot of point they told me.  Still I am trying to keep them “honest.”

I have also been trying to get some information on the “Public Realm Network Plan”.  This interesting document is firmly in the hands of CERA/CCDU at the moment.  I believe that they are under “consultation” over this document.  Their idea of consultation is notional at the best.  As far as I can work out the CCC knows little about it, neither has any business owner in my circle seen it. The reason I want to see said document is because it seriously affects my development options for the rebuild of the rear of our building.  We have waited 4 years now. Why are we waiting…….???  They really do not want businesses to remain in the CBD do they?  Where is their commercial sense????   hello “Ground control to Major Tom is there any one out there” ????

It looks like another case of CERA/CCDU consultation that you have when you are not consulting.

It is probably sitting on Gerry’s desk.  Like all the other Christchurch issues.  He seems incapable of making a rapid decision.  One wonders why he has been given another portfolio (Defence) as well as dealing with Christchurch recovery.  (Than again he is very defensive!)
I spotted this editorial the other day.  Spot on!!

Secret Squirrel is alive and well!

Secret Squirrel is alive and well!

On the subject of commercial business in the city. In a conversation with a large building owner I was told that the city has run out of commercial tenants willing to lease premises. The rents/outgoings are too high and the economy here is so depressed that most operators prefer to remain in their garages and back yards rather than step up into high risk rentals in the CBD. Combine this with the fact that many offices and head offices have pulled out of Christchurch. This partially explains why the Cashel street/High street intersection looks like a wasteland on a busy Saturday afternoon – No one is bothering to rebuild as they have no tenants secured for the developments, therefore no funds secured from the banks to rebuild with).

Cashel Street near High Street on a busy saturday.

Cashel Street near High Street on a busy saturday.

The other issues being very carefully not discussed by the “powers that be” here is the continued population loss. Although the figures look okay, with only a 7000 drop, what is happening is that as the 40-50 years olds get their houses fixed and their family issues sorted, they are pulling out of the city.  (This is noticeable amongst my acquaintances). These are people with middle/upper tier management and trade skills. They are gradually pulling out, as people recognise that the situation here is hopeless. They are being replaced by construction workers.

It was sad to see in the ChCh Press an article about the loss to the city of economist Eric Crampton.  His views are pragmatic and sensible. It is a pity CERA did not bring him onto their team and listen to him.  “As a classical liberal, Crampton believes the state’s role in our lives should be as limited as possible”.
He believes that the government’s response to the earthquakes, was an unhappy combination of regulation and deregulation. Damn right he is too.  You only had to be unfortunate enough to be trapped in the CBD red zone to know what hells we were put through. While those building owners 100 metres away,  outside the red zone, did not have to face and endure.

“He has a lot to say about how the post-quake period has been handled”  Read his chapter in the book “Once in a Life Time”.   (Free range Press) It is an eye opener.

Ho humm it’s a beautiful day, I am warm for the first time in 3 months, the birds are singing and they have dug a hole for my house foundations.  Some one in their infinite wisdom has decided that we need a 7500 litre storm water tank.  Great! I am going to get a new swimming pool as well! Morons….. This is overkill……

A swimming pool!

A swimming pool!


Christchurch Building Consents.. sigh..

So…. whats new in High Street.   Well Johnny Moore has opened his bar/restaurant down the road.  Very nice it is too. I hope it goes well for him.

I managed a wry smile when I read his opinion piece the other day discussing red tape.  He obviously has much better connections than I do:

“Cera was a pleasure. For God’s sake, Roger Sutton even came in on his bicycle one afternoon to check if there was anything he could help with. That’s service.”

Huh?  It must be your good connections Johnny, no one gives a toss about our fate, we could have a functioning business down here. But that’s not important is it?

The lack of concern for our progress and lack of assistance is obvious. Pity Roger does not come and visit us.  Obviously we are not as powerful as the Moore’s.  The temptation to re-board the building frontage up is at the moment overwhelming  (This is something that we are seriously considering.) The building is currently useless to us, the new fencing that has been placed around us leaves us trapped, invisible and at the end of a dead-end.  One could almost suggest that it has been deliberate.  Link Here:

I cracked up with laughter a few days ago when I was rung by a research company, doing a survey for CCDU.  They wanted to know if we would stay in the CBD.  My short answer was, why are you wasting my time?  CCDU does not want businesses in the CBD all they want is bars and cafes. If they wanted business here they would be giving certainty, advice, information and assistance.

High Street itself is still looking awful.  The Billens building is still lying on the ground.  There has been no progress on repairs on any of the other 7 units that CERA owns.  (Rumour has it that they have been offered another unit, so that may be 8.) The other building owners are still AWOL.  I fail to understand why CERA has not forced the building owners to act.  Beats me!

The street has not been cleaned up in 3.5 years. There is no street scape plan. There appears to be no roading plan.  Progress is non-existent.  I believe there is a plan to container off the remaining frontages of some units.  That is unnecessary and unhelpful.

Our Progress?:

I am still waiting for Chch Building consents to “call me back”. I phoned the head of Commercial consents on the 14th of July… I was hoping to get some sense out of them,  and was told they would call me back.  A Tui moment I am afraid. “yeah right.”  $10 million dollars of crown manager has obviously been wasted here, they can not even call us back.  I am watching with interest to see if they actually do so. We are still stalled at Fire consent stage, they are arguing about the rate bricks and steel heat. ie  the rate steel reinforcing columns and the bricks will melt/collapse in a fire. There is, or will be, steel reinforcing columns in every standing old building in the city and I am not going to fyreline (box in with fire resistant gib) every column in the building nor am I going to intumescent paint them. (Fire retardant paint.)  Firstly: the cost of the paint is horrific, ($600 plus per 10 litre container if I remember correctly.) Secondly: the number of coats needed is unbelievable, (up to about 10) and Thirdly, it will take months and it is physically impossible. This is going to be an ongoing issue for any strengthened building.

Some sod is being bumptious down there and playing games.  The steel is for earthquake strengthening not a fire safety issue. This steel was consented in its current format in 2010 and has not under gone any changes. ie They are trying to re visit an existing consent.

On another subject:

Notice how all of CERA”s projects involve monuments. We have: the Margaret Mahy park, the river park, the memorial.   It would be a bit much to ask them to build something useful I guess.  Notice how it is that when governments run out of ideas they build a monument?  (By the way there are rumours that they have seen “sense” on the Mahy park and are reducing it in size and cost. I am watching with interest)

Ho humm, the sun is shining, they have started on site preparations for my new house. After 3.5 years. (A disgrace in itself.)  And as long as we ignore the idiots in charge all is well.



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:

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.

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:  

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!)

We have the Avon River project:  (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?  :

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:

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:

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:

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:  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!


Building Consent Despair Christchurch… Still…

We are Still trapped between our Engineer and the Christchurch City Council Building Consents Department. (Note that this is Gerry Brownlee’s restructured Building consent department).  An unenviable situation, one is hopelessly overworked and the other hopelessly rigid and rule bound with a desire to limit any possibility of liability, as well as overworked.

We wonder if this system of Building Consents has been set up for large companies with Architects, designers, lawyers and building consent experts, with a “fist full of dollars”  and with no interest in helping small building owners navigate through the mire of bureaucracy. I note that all liability rests with our Engineer anyway so whats the fuss???

We have been waiting for 2 years to gib this ceiling, does anyone actually want us to finish this damn building?

I note that there may well be repercussions from this tirade, but we are going nowhere anyway and have nothing to lose.. so what the hell…

The question that you have to ask is: Is it worth strengthening and repairing a Heritage building?  If the difficulties that we are having with CERA/CCDU/CCC Building Consents/Engineer/etc is anything to go by I would say not. The hoops that we are jumping through are just too complicated, time-consuming and frustrating.

I personally would no longer recommend that anyone try to save a heritage building in Christchurch.  It appears to me that the “powers that be” actually prefer it if we do not succeed. The financial side of the strengthening/repair actually stack up, it is the other issues that are so frustrating.

At the moment I am at the point of opening without consent and with no ceiling, that will get them ” jumping all over me”, but that’s no surprise is it?

Frustration is getting the better of us...

Frustration is getting the better of us…

Just to give you a rough idea of the process I am currently dealing with, I will give you a few examples of the questions I am getting.  Mostly the problems appears to be semantics, ie wording. Building consents want it said in a particular way and until you get your documentation in their preferred format (which actually is all about removing liability for the council) you get NO WHERE.

At the moment the arguments Are:

Please find the review in the attachment for your and your designer’s information – we do need the report to be completely correct because all these documents form part of the property file and stay with the property. Here read:( ie please make sure you have all your wording just as WE like it, so we can cover our asses.)

RFI5105 – please provide an updated design using entirely the old C/AS1 incorporating all the works – please refer to the fire review attached. Here read: (ie for gods sake stop changing things and stop allowing for future proofing.)

RFI5127 – Please provide drawings to clearly show the construction details of the proposed fire separations within this building, including the location of the fire walls/ceilings, the fire protection around the structural supports etcHere read:
(ie label the fire cells 1 and 2, although it is clearly identified in the documentation)

RFI5131 – all new works must fully comply with the Building Code, this include any replacement to the boundary walls and their compliance to the protection of the neighbouring properties requirements. Please clarify how this is achieved. Here read:
( ie you have re-mortared some bricks, exactly in the same position as they were, in fact they are now stronger, please tell us how you did this???? )

RFI5132 – As the new steel columns are introduced next to the party walls, please clarify how will these steel columns be protected from fire so that should there be a fire in the building the steel members will not damage the party walls. Please note the steel columns will elongate in fire and without any treatment the connection will damage the party walls. Here read:
(Now this is interesting, these columns are exposed, ie not boxed in.

You decide: A) do you want this building strengthened or B) do you want to hang around and find out which melts first the bricks or the steel…. dur….  so you want us to box in every column in the building???  I think not.  Note that this issue was consented to in the original building consent in 2010, why are we revisiting this?  These walls have been here for 110 years… so I moved a few bricks around… also the party-wall legislation is so flawed it needs to be dragged into the 21st century kicking and screaming. These buildings are old, stop trying to pretend that they will ever meet new legislation standards.)

I note that I am not the only Building owner having troubles:  Link Here:

“Council figures show the time taken to process consents has steadily declined. In May, it processed 86 per cent of residential building consents within the statutory 20 working days. Processing commercial applications was a greater struggle. It managed to process only 32 per cent of those in the required time frame.

Now for some thing totally different:

We have had David Lynch suggest that the Gap filler project is messy and unprofessional.  He suggests: “The non-profit endeavour should be moved to a “bohemian” site somewhere near CPIT, he said. In an interview, Lynch described the Crowne Plaza site as “almost like a gypsy camp” Link Here:

I am sure that we do not need a bohemian “gypsy camp”  in High Street, thank you very much for the offer.  But I think not.  The feel good factor of gap filler is now at an end and I tend to agree with Mr Lynch.

Now, my sources tell me, we had a very “weak presentation” put on by the CCDU touting for money for some rather large White Elephant Anchor projects. My sources tell me that a number of the speakers were excellent, but the CCDU did not excel it self. Link Here:

The CCDU is looking for funds for a park, an art collection and a river bank project. $20 million for a park?  You must be kidding!  Most of us would settle for a road with no road works or road cones, a house that does not leak and a settlement from our Insurance company’s.  I do not suggest they come to me for a donation, the answer will be less than polite. Not a penny will you get.

For heavens sake get your priorities right. Can you not read the mood of the city???

Looks to me that I am not the only one thinking along these lines. Link here:  and here:

I think strong coffee is required.  Ho humm anyone got a spare $ 20 million for a nice artwork and a playground?


CERA Flip-flops Again……

  • Locked out of undamaged factory for 1214 days – (since Feb 2011)
  • Do we still own our building????    Now 687 days since designated “South frame, Innovation Precinct” – only until 2022 before it lapses. ( Before we get told if we are going to be compulsorily acquired by the CCDU.)  Jeepers how did that happen? I thought it was 3 years.  Silly me.  This is not giving certainty to the building owners.  This is a really bad plan.
  • High Street Building amendment details still at the council. Another Request for Further Information regarding a “fire safety issues”.  Back to the Engineer. Humm this is starting to be really annoying……. some of the “questions” are getting annoying as well….
  • Building Consent for my new house. Amazing!  It came through yesterday.  It took only 8 months….

Now this is guaranteed to frustrate a building owner. Its called the flip-flop, or is that flop-flip. Now I am sure there is some clever individual out there who can tell me the answer to this question, but you now have here one totally confused building owner.

On the 3rd of June 2014 I am sent a document with a “spatial plan” of the new lane way to be created behind our building.  Okay…… so now I can make a decision about the layout of our rear block that needs rebuilding….  “Very spatial it is too…..”

But no, no, no….. 10 days later I am sent a new version that is to go out for public consultation……

Its changed back…. Again???????  Now this might seem to be no big deal.  But it actually is rather important that I get the layout of the building more or less accurately reflecting the lane way. There is no point in having the toilet block in an area that should be an entrance.

Now what i do?  grirr………  Why are we waiting?   Just tell me what the ….decision is so that we can make a decision.

Make up your mind please!

Make up your mind please!


Ho Humm, another day in paradise.