How not to repair a heritage building in the Christchurch CBD…

CERA is gone,  ye ha, some progress at last after 5.5 years.  Or is it???  We now have a myriad of quasi government organisations taking over CERA’s functions.  One hopes that they will do a better job than CERA, but that may well be a vain hope.

We now have the: Christchurch City Council/Regenerate Christchurch/Otakaro Ltd/ Land Information New Zealand(LINZ)  all having their fingers in the pie.  I watch with interest to see if they can unravel the tangled mess.  I note that most of the CERA staff have been transferred to these new departments so I assume that it is business as usual. An inability to make sound commercial decisions and more “pie in the sky”, grandiose plans.  Ho hum who cares. Who knows who is in charge of this lot now?  It’s like a black hole of government departments.

The central city is still a mess.  Although I have seen some signs of improvement. The problem is that few of us go into the city anymore.  And I live here.  If I have to walk across town I by-pass the central city.

So What is new in High Street?

1.The McKenzie and Willis site, being developed by Richard Peebles, is making great progress. Ye ha.  The scaffolding came down briefly the other day so here is a brief view of it “scaffold less”.  ( Is that a word?)–but-not-for-longP1010003.JPG

McKenzie and Willis Facade.  Looking good!



Progress is rapidly occurring at the rear as well.

2. The Excelsior site has now been demolished. It does look better.   Link here:

3. I see Johnny Moore at Brick Farm is having trouble with rabbits.  Now that is funny, Sorry Johnny. Add rabbit pie to the menu?  I also have possums, pigeons, cats, rats and 2 legged human weasels at my end of the street. Link Here:

2.  There is the odd “rumour” about the fate of the Duncan’s Buildings.  All I can say is it sounds promising.  If only one can get the government to make a decision!  yeah right! Useless lot that they are.

3.  No propping of the Duncan’s Facade has occurred under either the  CCC/CERA/Regenerate Christchurch, leadership in 5.5 years.  It is desperately needed.  No sign of even an attempt to “Make safe”.  Days from notification to CCC off structural failure so far at: The CCC compliance team was notified on the 16 March 2016.  The count so far:  62 days…… please explain?????

Incidentally some one asked me the other day who our Case Manager/Block liaison person at CERA/Regenerate Christchurch is?  The second part of the question was when had I last had a conversation with them.  After a long silence I had to admit too: No idea and have not got a clue!

4. The Valentines Day quake was a beauty and caused some cracking in our (half off) pediment, way up on the top of the facade.  The Engineer’s conclusion was that it was terminal.  Thus we have had to re-scaffold and demolish it.   Bugger!P1010002.JPG

Pediment is cracked and generally munted.


It would be helpful if the neighbour Jon Webb was not basking in the sun in Vietnam.  Sigh. I can not rebuild it as I only own half of it.  So I have had to come up with a temporary solution.

P1010058.JPGWe have redone the brick work and created a couple of pods.

It’s a pity that no one will take an interest in what is happening to the street.  As usual all the powers that be are conspicuous by their absence.  For heavens sake, the powers that be can not even get the wreck that sits beside us demolished.  How useless is that!



Spink’s derelict building still not demolished 5.5 years later.

ho hum another day. Better head off to my new day job.

PS. My house is just headed back to amended building consent. ye ha.  I reckon I might be in it in 12 months.  No hurry of course its only been 5.5 years.



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 …. part 160

Well, here we are nearly 4.5 years down the track from the February 2011 earthquake and still waiting.  The city is in the depths of winter and despair. The building owners are fed up and walking away,  CERA is pulling out although it is not admitted out loud…. This has been obvious for the last year or so. The so-called anchor projects in the city are increasingly looking like boat anchors, they are either dead or dying ducks.  The costs of the Convention Centre is blowing out of the water,   – all very depressing if one cared.  Which most of us building owners no longer do.  They will do what they want….. Bunch of idiots.

What New in High Street:

  • No official information on the Innovation Precinct lane ways plans,  so our toilet block rebuild is still stalled.  I want it in writing please.
  • I am increasingly disturbed by the building of the Vodafone building in the Innovation precinct on the corner of High and Tuam Streets.  As the steel frame goes up it is obvious to me that the height of the building will have a shadow effect on Lower High Street.  Already a street at a disadvantage due to its east facing orientation, shadowed by the unpleasant, under used and ill positioned, 3 storey CPIT Jazz School building.  Why would you allow the further shadowing of one of the last heritage block left in the city?  I just do not get it. The lack of planning design control is evident to all.  CERA/CCDU and Urban planning legislation has failed the city in this respect. The Government/MBIE has fixated on the Building Consents mechanism but not the actual details of urban design.
  • Incidentally, If they dig up the St Asaph Street intersection again I will take shares in the roading company. We are well and truly sick of them. The traffic jams are driving us to drink or in my case chocolate!
  •  On the corner they have finished scaffolding and plying the windows of the Mckenzie and Willis building and some heavy-duty “nibbling” equipment has arrived in the back car park.  I await with interest to see what happens. Other than that. Nothing.  A repeat of the last 4.5 years. No progress.
The diggers are going in!

The diggers are going in!

I have been somewhat irritated by the fan fare regarding the reopening of the old Twisted Hop site. Link here:  and here:  “The building lease for three years and fit out was funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment at a cost of $900,000 while the Canterbury Development Corporation, the region’s economic development agency, will run the hub”.

Just for the record.  This is one of many buildings that CERA wanted to pull down.  It was saved by the wife of the previous building owner, Informing CERA in no uncertain terms, I am told, that if they pulled it down “she would see them is court”.  Well done Anna.  Of course, this was a case of “this building is very dangerous”.  CERA was very good at that.  Pity really, as in many cases this was not true.

Questions with no answers:

  1.  How can the government after 4.5 years fix a building with our tax payers money, to house “start-up company’s” rent free, when the very same government tasked with the recovery of Christchurch demanded that all the “old Dungers” be pulled down as they were “very dangerous”?
  2. Why was no assistance given to the existing building owners with engineering and stabilization issues to help facilitate the repairs of the damaged buildings immediately after the earthquakes? I am not just referring to the Twisted Hop Building but all the damaged buildings in Christchurch.
  3. How can the government offer another building owner the funds to repair the Twisted Hop building and not the original building owner who was forced to sell as a result of the failure of their insurance company, after 4.5 years?

There was an interesting article by Roger Sutton recently, “Roger Sutton finds heritage protected in quake-hit Italian city of L’Aquila”

“The fire service in Italy produces a massive 200-page handbook on how to prop and protect damaged historic buildings. Saving their historic buildings is embedded deep in the Italian culture especially in cities like L’Aquila where the old buildings are the major tourist attraction”.  Link here:

OMG Obama is not wearing his fluro.....vest!  Remember that

OMG Obama is not wearing his fluro…..vest! Remember that “these Dungers” are very dangerous.

If the propping had been done as per L’Aquila,  there would have been time to come up with a plan to repair buildings, like they have done at the Twisted Hop and what we have done at 137-139 High Street.   It did not have to be every building but many could have been saved.  These buildings could have been repaired at a later stage and we would have not ended up with the scorched earth syndrome that we have now.

Question: We would like to see an analysis of the cost of the 125 years of infrastructure that has been thrown into the refuse centre. What is the true cost, let alone the environmental issues? This will need a proper study by an academic department of a University!

There are very many unanswered questions!

We would also like to see MBIE come down to lower High Street, aid us with tax payer money to facilitate our recovery with free rent and assistance to navigate the bureaucracy that they have created.  Yeah right, a Tui moment I am afraid. 

Incidentally, if one gets a close look at the inside of the Twisted Hop building you will note that it has no gib lining on the ceiling.  That’s weird….. how come they got consent for that????

Moving on down the street….

A very thoughtful comment by Johnny Moore this morning, 27 June 2015, in the Press.  He has said what most of us are thinking and have not bothered saying aloud, mostly because we no longer care what they do and they do not listen anyway.  The sooner they bugger off the better… Link Here:   He is referring to the demolition of the BRAND NEW!  Westende Building in Manchester Street,  which most of us cannot see the point in demolishing. Especially for a roadway. The local view is that a standing building is worth its weight in gold, given the CERA led destruction that has occurred.  The demolition is “quietly” occurring now. Link Here:

The most costly environmental building in New Zealand. Life span 2 years.

The most costly environmental building in New Zealand. Life span 2 years.

Westend Building, Brownlees

Westend Building, Brownlees “poster child” of the rebuild of CHCH. Demolished by the CCDU for a 6 lane roadway.

If one walks through the central city, you will see building after building, empty section after empty section,  block after block, that has had no work done or where no progress has been made for nearly 5 years. One must ask why?  It appears the CCDU/CERA has pulled out completely. They have literally bolted from the city with the job not even started. The problem is that they have not finished a single project that I can think of.

As I was thinking about this blog there was an article in the press by Garth Falconer. Called “A Letter to New Zealand”.  It is an excellent article and articulates what I can not put into words. His comments about the rebuild resonate for me:

“Privately many locals respond to my prods with exclamations of dashed expectations, exhaustion, continual frustrations and a long-shot hope that Cera will someday dismantle itself and leave town. There are good people in both council and Cera, but apparently there is no real design leadership at the fore of this rebuild. Christchurch needs an inspiring, integrating, resourceful and challenging focus on design. It should not just replace but be better than before”. 

“The telltale signs of design failure are also evident in the larger urban form of the city. Outwards the once-tight Christchurch has just become more dispersed, more spatially weak and more reliant on the motor car. New offices have been constructed on edge of the central city, in Addington and Riccarton. They are big and cheap (about $350sqm in rent) and you can park your car in front”.

An excellent well thought out article that really nails the issues.  What I really liked about it was the fact that it was an “out of Towner” articulating what we Christchurch peeps have known for 4.5 years.  New Zealand be very afraid this could be your city!  Link here:

From the depressing to the more humourous:

-The musical jingles keep coming, here is the one from SCIRT. A “little reminder” from SCRIT that “we are half way there”. At the moment it does not feel like it.  The whole central city is a nightmare of road cones and road works, delays and diversions, 4.5 years later….. it is almost incomprehensible. Link Here:

-This is heartening news: It is nice to see a building saved. It is now on site next to the Trinity Church in Manchester Street.  Congratulations to both Christchurch Heritage chairwoman Anna Crighton and former owner property developer Antony Gough for saving this iconic building.

Shand’s Emporium touches down on Manchester St, Christchurch  Link Here:

ho humm…..  A winter of discontent I am afraid…..

Hot off the press:  An extension has been granted for the rental assistance for those of us out of our houses:  “Budget 2015 provides an additional $7.7 million in funding which will see this assistance extended until December 2017, for those residents in Canterbury who are still waiting to get their properties assessed and repaired.

Thank heavens for small mercies, this has been worrying me for a while. This means I can pay the rent….. As for various reasons it looks like my house will take another year to be rebuilt.  sigh….. Link Here:

How not to repair a heritage building in the Christchurch CBD

So whats new in High Street?

High Street has just had a tidy up. This was desperately needed, it looked like a bomb site.
CERA finally consented to the removal of the rubble from the street and someone told me a tree trim!  It happened on Thursday and Friday.  The difference is amazing.  I believe they removed 4 tons of rubbish. The City Council staff did an amazing job and worked like hell to get it done before the rain came.

It went from a bomb site:

Debris everywhere plus 4 years of acorns and leaves!

Debris everywhere plus 4 years of acorns and leaves!

To a tidy version of Little Detroit!



There has been some movement on the Mckenzie and Willis site. They began scaffolding it a few days ago.  They will scaffold the front, then drop some big supporting columns behind the frontage and the back of the building will be removed.  Yeah ha!  Progress.  Once this is done the burnt out Billen’s building can be removed.

The scaffold goes up on the Mckenzie and Willis site.

The scaffold goes up on the Mckenzie and Willis site.

The Back of McKenzie and Willis and Billens building. This will be removed once the frontage is stable.

The Back of McKenzie and Willis and Billens building. This will be removed once the frontage is stable.

I see that the “For lease” signs have gone up.  Finding tenants will be the tricky bit. There is an oversupply of office space in the city and the retailers are refusing to come back until some certainty is given over car parking and progress on the anchor projects.  I suspect that is “boat anchor”, most of these projects are dead ducks and white elephants.

For lease

For lease

There are numerous rumours buzzing around about the fate of the Street.  The most plausible:  is the sale of the 7 units that CERA own to a developer who will restore. I have heard that a number of meetings have taken place along these lines.  I am not privy to the details lol!  I have also heard some whispers of a private sale being contemplated between 2 building owners.  (Not me before any one gets any fancy ideas, I have got enough problems without taking on any more unreinforced masonry buildings!)

I have seen plans for the rebuild of one of the Duncans units that was seriously trashed in February 2011 quakes,  I am delighted that they appear to keep to a similar style frontage. I have my fingers crossed that this comes to fruition.

I am still unable to find out the fate of the rear laneway behind my building.  This is holding up the rebuild of our toilet block.  Just how hard is it for CERA /CCDU to pick up the phone and tell me for once and for all what is going on???

Moving on from this on going frustration…..

We have done a bit of tiding up of our frontage.  We found a great plasterer, he would come to work with his 83 year old Dutch dad ( also a plasterer, who repaired Churchs in the Netherlands after WW11) and have long and lengthy discussions on how to repair some of the frilly bits on the frontage.  A dying skill I am afraid.  We have not done the top bit yet.  That is on hold until NZI/IAG – The Insurance company, gives me OUR INSURANCE MONEY!  The stalling and carry on with the insurance industry is amazing.  The system needs restructuring!



some plaster repairs in the bottom left hand corner. After.

some plaster repairs in the bottom left hand corner. After.

I see Johnny Moore, down the road at Brick Farm had a “wee moment” the other day, with the constant road works out side his building.  I had to laugh or was that cry?  as I sympathised. The constant road works gets “challenging” to say the least!

This is what the High St-Tuam St intersection looks like at the moment.  The only word for it is “sodding nightmare”. Road cone heaven!

I think health and safety have a road cone fetish,

I think health and safety have a road cone fetish.

I have been watching the comments made by Anthony Gough about the building consents department and his problems.

At the moment, all I can say about this is: that Building Consents are being incredibly helpful to us at the moment.  For which I am very grateful as we were really in a bad space over this issue. Due to a combination of issues that I will not bore you with.
Link here:

Re the red zoning of residential properties:

A very interesting blog discusses the red zoning.

I whole heartedly agree with this, basically our homes were red zoned for the political expediency of the national government, to save the Insurance industry money.  Sad…. and so unnecessary.  Many of us renting homes in the city are still suffering the pain of the loss of 7000 plus houses  as we pay silly rents and are still living in impossible conditions. This Link makes compelling reading:

“7. The decision to Red Zone many homes was a ‘political’ decision, and these decisions were not based on data. These decisions appear to have been made merely to save the insurance industry money from omitting the ground remediation costs.
Expelling victims from their homes ‘Red Zoning’ (many homes with very little structural damage) has been at great cost to the home owners both mentally, physically and financially.
Many of these residents, were paid the cost of their land (as per the 2007 valuations), but ‘repair value’ to their homes only, leaving vulnerable victims unable to afford to purchase new homes. Many of these people are elderly, now homeless and having to rent substandard dwellings.”

8. …” However the crown now has the ability to sell this confiscated land which will result in the New Zealand Government making a financial profit from forcibly removing earthquake victims from their homes”.

I notice in the press this morning some comments about the rebuild. Link here:  What I can not figure out is how anyone can maintain that the minister is doing a good job. You only need to look at High Street to see that. For the $1.4 they spent buying up the units in High Street they could have strengthened them and on sold for a profit.

Ho humm, another day in the shaky city.

ps  Due to some “difficulties” with my new house foundation, it looks like I will be squatting in the flat for another year…. as we go back to ground zero….  I am hoping like hell that the government does not can the rent subsidy CETAS offers, it is due to expire in October…. Then I will be in deep s……

How not to repair a Heritage building in the Christchurch CBD, Part 157

I see Will Harvie, from the Christchurch Press, has been busy. A further article on High Street in this mornings press, 6.4.2015.

Keep them coming!  After 4 plus years any pressure we can bring on the “powers that be” the better”.

I had a great chat with him the other day, discussing some of the issues and frustrations. Link Here:

“These days, however, the building and its near neighbour – the McKenzie & Willis facade – are pretty much all that’s left of old High St. Everything else was demolished or destroyed by fire.

This gives Duncan’s Building – which takes up most of the west side of High St between Tuam and St Asaph streets – new importance in a city abruptly without its heritage architecture. It dates to 1905 and has a category 2 listing.

“It’s a wonderful, continuous heritage building like no other left in Christchurch,” said Anna Crighton of the Christchurch Heritage Trust.

“It’s a crucial row of shops that must be saved, and can be saved,” Mark Gerrard, an activist with Historic Places Canterbury, said.”

There is not much more that can be said really!

These shops will make great start up units for small niche businesses.  The units are small and the rents will be lower than in the new building and the area seems to be retaining, against all the odds, its edgy feel.

I have just spent yet another day talking to the tourists who pass my front door, who are incredulous that the city still looks like a “doughnut”.  Hollow in the centre with nothing for them to do and no where to go.

Ho Humm – Another year passes and the Easter holiday business closures are still not being addressed by Government.

How not to repair a Heritage Dunger in Christchurch…. 4 years on.

Today, like so many Christchurch people, I have been reflecting on the last four years. It is a poignant sort of day,  even the sky has been weeping for the 185 deceased and the 400,000 living victims still struggling to recover, many of us still with unresolved Insurance, employment and housing issues.

Today is “Road Cone memorial day”.  The city is bedecked with flowers in every road cone, (and we have thousands of them!) placed by citizens grieving for the deceased, the hurt, the walking wounded, the frustrated, trapped and generally P.. off….  The cones are a symbol of remembrance, sadness and frustration.


Christchurch road cone Memorial day.

Christchurch road cone Memorial day.

There is a palpable sense of loss in the city today.  I am watching the tourists wander up and down High Street taking photos. I wonder what they think as they look at the street. High Street is the last area in the city to remain in the same condition as it was on the 22 February 2011. Still behind the Red Zone fencing trapped in a time warp. And it is so easy to fix!  It could so easily be a showcase area of the city.

4 years progress in High St for CERA/CCDU.

4 years progress in High St for CERA/CCDU.

Now 4 years on from the 22nd February 2011 6.3 magnitude earthquake in Christchurch I ask  “What have we achieved”?

Millions of dollars have been spent by the government. (I am not quite sure where all the money has gone).  Almost all the projects that CERA has initiated are either stalled, delayed or on “hold”.

  • “The Avon River Precinct was due to be finished by the end of this year, but the Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU) has extended that timeline to mid-2016”.  (Incidentally, I notice that buried in the article on the delayed Avon River project is a comment worth noting: “Landscape architect Di Lucas said the work on the river was substandard, particularly the “in-stream” work that had included substantial use of volcanic rock in what was a soft sedimentary system”.  Whoops!  Link here:
  • The Convention centre: Looks like more like a white elephant every day.  Link Here:
  • Covered Stadium:  Think “Definitely White Elephant”, a permanent $253 million stadium, with a completion date pushed out to 2019.
  • Public Spaces: “construction of public spaces in the south frame between Madras St and Hagley Ave now happening in 2016
  • Delayed:  “the development of recreational and commercial attractions for the Square also rescheduled to finish, six months later than planned, in the third quarter of 2016”. And they still have not made a decision about the Cathedral! The Cathedral is actually in my opinion a “no brainer”. It is the heart and soul of the city.  Get it sorted.  It does not have to be repaired exactly as it was, but elements of the old building need to be retained.  It is repairable!  Look at the roof line, its near perfect.
The Christchurch Cathedral in the square. Why not repair the heart and soul of the city???

The Christchurch Cathedral in the square. Why not repair the heart and soul of the city???

  • Now 4 years down the track, the plans for the south frame have been radically altered.  Link here: The CCDU has spent $25 million purchasing land for public works in the frame (excluding the innovation and health precincts) but the land designation has been fully, or partially, lifted on 54 per cent of the properties. The final plan for the frame is still to be developed. “It’s been a protracted, frustrating process. We’ve been in negotiations [with the CCDU] for years but we’ve never been offered any money for our sites””.  Many of us have been now told that the designations on our buildings have been lifted.  This may sound like good news, but in the meantime many of the building owners have made plans to relocate or close down.  Now they are being told that this confiscation is not going to happen, or in some cases, only a proportion of the land will be taken.
  •   We have now been told that it will be another 9 months plus in limbo land before we get told the layout of the lane ways that run through the south frame.  (This means that we are still unable to rebuild our toilet block at the back of our building).  This effectively renders our building un tenantable.  Despite being earthquake strengthened and repaired.  At this rate this will mean an un tenantable building for effectively 6 years.  (5 waiting for CCDU to come up with a plan and 1 year to build.)

 So whats new in High Street??? Nothing much.

  • No Amended Building Consent yet….. The CCC is threatening to cancel our Amendment.  Again!  (It will make their figures look better!)
  • Therefore No gib on the ceiling yet…..  This building consent issue is pure insanity. ( I was told by a leading Engineer in the city recently “that I was not alone in my frustration”.  I was told it is a common problem, totally ignored by the powers that be.
  • No lane way plan, another 9 months-1 year to wait before CCDU gets its act together.
  • No parking wardens, yet…. much to our irritation, as long-term parking by the poly students is causing us grief.
  • The near constant smell of sewerage at the back of the Duncan’s Buildings is unpalatable…. say no more!
  • Apparently the street scape plan for High Street is due in 3 years…..
  • No information from CCDU about the fate of the 7 Duncan’s Building units that they own…. No repair strategy in place….
  • Now This:  Roger Sutton resigns. Link Here:   “He may well be proud”….under CERA’s administration, the National government has been responsible for the largest and most rapid social disruption/dislocation of the poorest sections  (East siders) of the population that has every occurred in any city in New Zealand in recent times. The Speed with which this dislocation occurred, the bullying and misinformation that we were given, the unnecessary suffering and pain that was inflicted will remain with these displaced people for many years.  The number of our elderly who died prematurely as a result of this dislocation is a sad indictment of the way this was handled. It was and is still a form of prolonged TORTURE. I personally see nothing that I could be proud of in the way this event has been handled.  And people wonder why we are grumpy???
  • This resignation has been closely followed by that of Warrick Issacs.  Did he jump or was he pushed?  I wonder???   The Press coverage of this Issue was totally unbalanced and Issacs has stated that he: “had found dealing with the heritage issues challenging”. “It’s been the hardest part of my job, having to make those decisions knowing they are not going to please everybody.  Yeah Right that made me choke on my wheatbix.  I might point out that he did not, as far as I know, challenge any of the section 38’s (demolish orders) that were put in front of him.  And he signed off over 1000.

Now its Minister Brownlee’s turn…… I am waiting……..

  • Victoria Square:  For some mysterious reason the “powers that be” in charge of CCDU has decided to revamp Victoria Square.  Go figure.  Why mess with it at the moment, save the money for something useful.  Sure fix the river bank and do repairs but spend 7 Million?  Why???  The public up roar about the waste of 7 million dollars warms the frozen cockles of my heart.  I just do not get it, can they really not read the mood of the Christchuch people??? Link Here:
  • A comment by “darkhorse” on stuff, sums up Christchurch and says it all really.  link here:   “In the same time that this lot have been trying to fix the city Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin had fought and won the second world war while at the same time transforming all of the major technologies of the day including inventing the jet engines, the computer and the atomic bomb.  Simple difference is that they were leaders with courage and vision where as this lot are just hopeless muddlers..”


I wish I had a $1 for every photo the tourists take of our street, it would pay for the repairs of one unit at least! There are hundreds of tourists coming to our end of High Street every day.  It has become the “show case” area of the city.  All for the wrong reasons.

Limbo land  4 years progress for CERA/CCDU.

Limbo land 4 years progress for CERA/CCDU.

How not to Repair a Heritage Building in the Christchurch CBD…..

Well now, that was a surprise!!

  •  Now 855 days since designated “South frame, Innovation Precinct”  ( ie They can take the building any time between now and 2022)  They will as of the end of the month drop the designation on our building!!!! I have not seen this in writing yet!

CCDU has lifted the designation on our building.   As of the end of the month we no longer have a compulsory acquisition order over our property.  Unfortunately many others at the meeting I attended were not so lucky.  Any one who is in the path of their “aspirational” lane ways path is still blighted with the designations and their properties/parts of properties,  likely to be purchased over the next 9 months. The beleaguered Innovation Precinct will be the first to get this treatment.  (It is the easiest one for them to start on as the land has been clear felled anyway!)  “Shortly you will receive in the post, a copy of the South Frame addendum. Read the  South Frame addendum PDF 1.66MB, 28 pages

So how did this come about???

I had been invited a few days earlier to another of the CCDU meetings for the South Frame. “Christchurch Central Development Unit invites you to attend a presentation on the vision for the South Frame, incorporating an update on the new planning rules”.

As usual with these meetings I reluctantly agreed to go. They have a history of being dead useless.  The staff are usually totally unprepared/unable/unwilling to give single syllable answers to questions.  ie yes/no.

I am afraid this meeting was no different.  I am afraid I have to accept that the CCDU are totally out of their depth and incoherent.

They have finally come up with a “Concept plan” of the South frame.  Oh my, were the building owners angry, the feelings of ire in the room was palatable.  There was a feeling of derision at a badly thought out plan.  It has taken the building owners a long time to get annoyed and I think this meeting may be a turning point. It was a pleasure to watch. The building owners have lacked a focus and have allowed themselves to be bullied and pushed around.  It is time they joined forces.

As is usual with the CCDU, there were few details given, no questions asked were given a “straight answer”.  The staff appeared uncomfortable and evasive.

The meeting was interesting:

  • There was bad feeling about the sales that CCDU have already made of land that has already been “purchased”.  In my conversations with the building owners later, the same comments were repeated over and over.  “They have not got a clue”, they “have no business experience”, they “think that we will hang around that long waiting for them”,  it is “unaffordable”,  “the city is stuffed”, very “aspirational and totally impractical”, you get the picture.
  • A comment was made that CCDU should have been assisting building owners to facilitate repair/rebuild.
  • Complaints that CCDU was taking land off private land owners but not the Hospital Board for its laneways project.
  • Comments regarding the price of retail/office space at $500 per square metre being unaffordable.
  • The plans shown to us were not consistent and way too small to discern detail.
  • Miniscule, poorly defined and next to useless plans.

    Miniscule, poorly defined and next to useless plans.

  • they were trying to avoid paying compensation.
  • existing user rights continue for those of us who have remained in place.
  • Office size provisions increased to 500 sq metres.
  • Deferral of the development regulation in force in the Innovation Precinct to be removed.
  • I was almost left with the feeling that the building owners were baiting the CCDU.

Building owners were told that they were going to have a 10m wide “greenway” lane way pushed through their properties. The new lane ways plans literally cuts buildings in half! ie half a building on each side of the laneway! They have “sliced and diced” the south frame like a piece of cake. thus down grading its value.  (And we are not supposed to build a block wall around the sides of the laneway… as it must be pretty and green!)

The amazing part of this is that the south frame is the only frame in the city that is actually working as it is. And making some money for the city. Most of the big car sales franchises in the city are in this area. And they want to stuff it!   There has to be a better way of dealing with this issue than the plan they have come up with.

I was hoping that they might finally be able to give me an answer regarding the fate of the back of our building.  But hello….  this is a draft concept plan only.  They have not even started on the plan yet!  They do not know which bits of land they are going to acquire.  They can not tell us what is happening.  My god, 4 years we have waited…… and they still can not get their act together.  The building owners tried to get a time frame out of them.  The best we got was that the plans might be ready in late 2015   and it might take 3-5 years to implement.  And they are in charge of recovery in the city?  Does the National Government really not know what is happening here?  Have they not looked at the figures coming out of the city regarding trade and retail.  Oh yes I forgot we are doing well…..  that’s why there are for lease signs all over the city, building owners can not find tenants and the whole city looks like Stalingrad.

This lot has got to go.

The irony of this meeting is that The Christchurch City Council was not invited to attend, until their hand was forced.   And they say that CCDU is working together with the CCC????  For heavens sake hand control over to the CCC, they will do a better job, in half the time and it will be at least get the city up and running again.  This nonsense has to stop.

They need to make some DECISIONS!!!!

Ho Hummn,  I suppose its progress, of a sort????

PS  Ohh! We are popular are we not.-   I see that the plans for the Mckenzie and Willis site have been released.

This is great news.  Rumour has it that the Billens site will also begin the process of being tided up in the new year and the site sold……