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: http://publicaddress.net/speaker/11-ways-the-opposition-has-failed-christchurch/

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.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/69943847/council-claws-back-rebuild-power

“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

Background.
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.

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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:  http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/64820533/Delayed-Avon-River-Precinct-revamp-threatens-tourism
  • The Convention centre: Looks like more like a white elephant every day.  Link Here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/10661310/Convention-centre-might-be-white-elephant
  • 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: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/65097936/Land-prices-shrink-Christchurchs-south-frame 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:  http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/63292588/Roger-Sutton-resigns-with-regrets   “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.  http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/65992629/Rebuild-chief-Warwick-Isaacs-quits-for-Stonewood-Homes-role

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:  http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/10627083/Victoria-Square-revamp-startles
  • A comment by “darkhorse” on stuff, sums up Christchurch and says it all really.  link here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/63769088/Sensitive-meeting-off-limits-to-public   “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..”

SNAFU

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.

CERA misuses section 38’s… Again…. or is that Still….

I notice that Labour stated: “It’s time to remove the “extreme wartime powers” that allow the demolition of Christchurch Cathedral and other heritage buildings without public consultation.  “Labour’s arts, culture and heritage spokeswoman Jacinda Ardern said a Labour government would remove Section 38 of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act.” Link here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/10228149/Labour-stirs-Christchurch-heritage-debate

This was about 2 days before the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority issued a Section 38 demolition order on this building. (Make safe/demolish)  The demolition of the Memorial Hall in Moorhouse Avenue  is to make way for a new Engineering and Architectural Studies building.  The Memorial Hall building was dedicated to 71 former Christchurch Technical College students who died in World War 1.

“It is a disgrace that the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (CPIT) authorities would consider the desecration of the sacred status of its war memorial in the name of progress,” the deputy chairman of Historic Places Canterbury, Ross Gray, said.

“The hall suffered earthquake damage and has not been occupied since September 2011, the CPIT said.”

Yes, true, every brick building in the city has suffered damage.  I will also point out that the Poly Technic had already made safe this building by doing some urgent repairs some time ago. I distinctly remember that the building was scaffolded and the walls were repaired and re-mortared.  (You will notice from the fencing surrounding the building that it is not in the “this is really dangerous” basket.  It is on Moorhouse Ave, it has 3 lanes of traffic and pedestrians walking past it every day.)

Now, I have no beef with the Poly Technic building a new “Engineering and Architectural Studies building”.   (Although the University already has a perfectly adequate Engineering Department and being only a simple person I fail to understand the duplication of courses.) And I am sure the Memorial garden will be a nice and fitting Memorial to those poor young men and woman who died in  World War 1.

What I do have a beef with, is the continued misuse of the section 38’s.  This building was 25% of the New Building Standard.  That is not far off 33%, it would have taken minimal strengthening work to reach the 33% required to make it legal to occupy.

The truth of the matter is that this building has stood up well to 14,000 earthquakes but was an inconvenience to the polytechnic, who have a massive rebuilding programme under way and have a better use of the land than as an old hall.  Fair enough. But stop hiding the truth under the guise of a Section 38.  Use the normal procedures and notifications.  There have been far too many buildings in the city pulled down under the guise of Section 38’s.  “Labour” is correct, this must stop.  (Although the horse has well and truly bolted on this issue in Christchurch!)

Incidentally this section 38 was immediately acted upon and the building was demolished the next Evening. They worked throughout the night and the digger quickly pulled the building in on itself and the deed was done.  Rather indecent haste I thought.

Memorial Hall

Memorial Hall

Ho humm, another Christchurch Heritage disgrace. SNAFU.