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!



Gerry’s “Old Dungas”…. and Still snagged at Building consents….

I have spent the last few days, (between trying to deal with Insurance issues) reading the first critique of the Disaster in Christchurch.  And I refer to the man-made disaster, not the 14000+ earthquakes.

“Once in a Lifetime: City-building after Disaster in Christchurch” Edited by Barnaby Bennett, James Dann, Emma Johnson and Ryan Reynolds
Foreword by Helen Clark,  Freerange Press, August 2014.. 55 essays, 39 visual essays

“This important book offers the first substantial critique of the Government’s recovery plan for Christchurch, presents alternative approaches to city-building and archives a vital and extraordinary time. “Once in a Lifetime” brings together a range of national and international perspectives on city-building and post-disaster urban recovery.” (Freerange Press)

Collectively it is the best summary of the situation that I have seen.  It does not cover CERA/CCDU in glory.  It clearly points out the flaws in the top down management technique that has been trialled here.

  • It refers: to the precincts as an “out dated model”, the public as “disillusioned”, the commercial rebuild as occurring “outside the fringes of the CBD” and the proliferation of bars and cafes as the only activities occurring in the CBD.
  • There is a comparison by Dr Suzanne Vallance of Lincoln University, between the disproportionate effect on socio-economically disadvantaged people.  (ie the East siders). As well as a discussion on the reliance on “Token consultation as information” and a discussion on the blue Print, “which rarely work out as intended.”
  • I also noted the comment by Jane smith , a CHCH resident, referring to the culture of secrecy, when referring to the control of access to the city, when referring to the cordon.  “For the latter half of the lock down period much of the land in the CBD was vacant, and access could have been effectively managed through site fences”.  This is an issue that was patently obvious to those of us with passes to the inner city we were bemused by the insistence on the lengthy lock down.
  • A comment by  Dr Jessica Halliday, an Architectural Historian, refers to the “over simplification” of the view that heritage buildings were killers.  This view was promulgated by Minister Brownlee, with his “old dungas” comments.

(Interestingly, I note that this original comment has now been attributed in the CHCH Press, 30 August 2014, in an article by Vicki Anderson, to Helen Trappitt. “a structural Engineer and a share holder at Lewis Bradford Consulting Engineers.”  Mrs Trappitt comments that  “That may have come up from a conversation he had with some of our engineers.”   

Hummn….. perhaps she should have gone back and clarified their comments, and made Mr Brownlee understand a wee bit better what you were referring too???


  • Shamubeel Eaqub comments that  “Government-mandated clusters rarely – if ever-work”.  He also comments on “the length of time it has taken to get things going”.   I found this theme reoccurring repeatedly throughout the book.

The only area I felt the book did not cover, was the actions taken against the building owners in the CBD area, the effects of the lock down on their businesses, the problems they had getting their stock and access to their wares, the difficulties of relocation,   or the way some building owners were coerced into demolishing buildings rather than repair and the lack of assistance to repair.  Both from central government and the Insurance Industry.

It needs another chapter on this issue.  But I would say that!
Some of these issues were touched on by a number of contributors.  Might have to keep that issue for book number 2!.

This is well worth a read, and I am only half way at this stage.

So Hows progress in High Street?

I am still completely frustrated by our building consent amendment issues. I am still trapped between an overworked Engineer and Building Consents.

I am well aware that I am not the only one in the city totally frustrated by the process. Link here:

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the Consents process is holding up progress in the central city.  CERA/CCDU, for all their might, seem unable and unwilling to address the issues.  They were very quick to demolish the buildings but since than have completely walked away from any issues the remaining building owners have.  Giving the new crown manager $2000 a day has not helped the situation one bit.  (Only cost the city a mere $10 million)

There is an intrinsic problem with the consents process.  I do not even pretend to understand all the issues, but it seems to me that the building consent departments are being hampered by government legislation. They require a mysterious process that requires that they tick certain boxes. The irony is that than the Consulting Engineer signs a Producer Statement taking full responsibility for the buildings, (than Consents charge you heaps and send you a bill.)  Why the duplication of procedures if the Engineers are taking full responsibility anyway???   I do not get it. There is no attempt being made to deal with these issues.

Other than that there has been no progress, the street looks like a bomb site, the Mckenzie and Willis and Billens buildings are still standing in their derelict glory.

On the subject of CERA/CCDU.  Anyone notice the complete silence???  They are desperate to keep their heads down prior to the elections. I would like to see a Christchurch revolution.  Marching in the street French style. The treatment of the city’s population by the Insurance companies, EQC, building companies etc has been appalling.  It is now nearly 4 years on and we are still living in “war like conditions” in cold broken houses, with broken roads and services.  Do you know that to go and buy a new pair of jeans I have to drive to the other side of the city?  There are no shops, services or amenities.  (Heaven help you if you need to find a public toilet!)  The only activity that is happening in the central city is alcohol fueled mayhem.

On the subject of my new house. “Southern No Response”  It’s still a hole in the ground after 7 months. They started to dig the site out and put in a small retaining wall, pre-foundations, they have stuffed up and now ripped part of it out. Now in the process of re-doing the wall.  Hummn?   This does not inspire confidence.  I am not enjoying living in my cold flat at all!

ho humm, off to send another email to the Insurance company!


How not to repair a Heritage building in the Christchurch CBD part 141

  • Locked out of undamaged factory for 1118 days – (since Feb 2011)
  • Do we still own our building????    Now 591 days since designated “South frame, Innovation Precinct” – only 1236 days to go before we get told if we are going to be compulsorily acquired by the  CCDU. There is now the possibility that this designation will be lifted in July!
  • Innovation precinct Plan Due:  September,  October,  November, December 2013, January, February?   March ?? Nope its to be July 2014!!!!
  • High Street Building amendment details at council. One further request for an electronic copy of the 2011 amendment which is probably still siting on a desk in the old, to be demolished, CCC building in town.  I can not argue with that, we had similar problems retrieving and rescuing our paper work as well.  The cabinet with all my building consent paper work fell over, got wet, had to be dried out, re sorted and filed.  I think I have it all, more or less. Out of respect for Jim at Building consents I will halt the day count for now.
  • Building Consent for my new house 94 working days so far.- rumours are its close. Humm… too many RFI’s?  (Requests for further Information)  Hope the Building company knows what they are doing with the foundations!

The fun stuff first! Have a look at this link, John McCrone has a good handle on building owners views. Link here:

Well worth a read. It says it all really. The cartoon accompanying the article was particularly poignant. It is apparently a Mural on a wall in Madras street.

Roger, Issacs and Gerry!

Roger, Issac and Gerry!

What have we been up to this week?

Another CERA/CCDU week from hell!

This week all the building owners in the innovation precinct have called in to get an “an update on progress within the Innovation Precinct. In particular, we would like to discuss the proposed planning changes that are about to go out for public comment and also share with you the proposed layout of the public realm.”

Early reports I had were that it was pretty standard.

  • They want mixed use.
  • Lane ways, interestingly most are pre-existing.
  • multiple storey buildings, a mix of office and residential.
  • One lane way appears to run behind our building.
  • MBIE wants “Innovation tenants”. Even if they have to subsidize the rentals by taking leases on buildings.  (Long term this is not sustainable)

(Incidentally, those in the know, tell me that the EPIC building charges $180 approx per square metre.  Well below market rental. EPIC building is built on land the previous council purchased from bankrupt developer David Henderson.   They have thrown up a corrugated iron “shed” on it and the “Innovation tenants” get cheap rental.  They have a 5 year time limit on the use of the land. My guess is that a new use will have to be found for the building as the Innovation plan is on “shaky ground”, literally!)

Anyway:  I somewhat reluctantly agreed to go to the Innovation precinct “one on one” meeting.
There were 6 of them and 2 of us.  4 x CCDU, 1 x MBIE, 1 x Communications Advisor.

As per usual, our meetings with CCDU are never a great success, this one was as “disappointing.”

I fail to see what the point of this meeting was. I did receive an agenda but I did not receive the requested plan of the new precinct. (I was stonewalled on that front.)

As far as I can work out, the reason we did not get a plan was that they were frantically changing it from what was presented to a group of land owners a week ago.

The revised plan they showed us was slightly different to what others had seen. Guess what! They have changed the position of the lane way at the back of our building. Status quo for us I am afraid. A sudden “deviation” of the lane way has occurred.  The plan we were handed was so warm as to be “hot of the press.”

One wonders about the legitimacy of this swapping around of plans.   Very unusual to say the least. (I am afraid it comes down to the what side of the tracks you were born on.)

I find the handing out of varying plans to different building owners extremely distrubing, bordering on dishonest.  The first plan I was told about was a better outcome for all the Duncan’s Building owners, rather than variation number 2 which leaves 4 owners still isolated from the new lane way.  The deviation also adds a element of risk to the walk way as it does not offer clear visibility of the whole lane way.

This alteration to benefit one land owner is not a good outcome and was certainly the cause of our ire at the meeting we had with them.  Mind you at the moment the point of the laneways is a bit “confused”  we have plenty of empty land around us, actually we could start a dairy farm.

Some where along the way, the lane way behind us has also “shrunk in the wash” from about 6-7 metres to 4 metres. Self interests put aside, decent back access to the Duncan’s buildings would have a number of benefits.

  • Allow rental splits ie the ground floors could be divided into multiple tenancies with both front and back access. ie better usage of the buildings. It would allow for the rejuvenation of the backs of these buildings. (For example In our case:  we are allowed under the new plan only 150sqm of retail area, we have approximately 230sqm of ground floor area,  ie If we try to divide our ground floor into 2 areas, one tenant is going to have to walk through/past another tenants area. That is never successful.
  • It would have allowed better access to the 2nd storey of the buildings.  In most of the Duncans buildings the central area of the buildings are taken up with stairways that are not always easily accessible, and take up large areas.  2nd floor tenants have to walk into other tenancies to access the stair ways.  Never a success.
  •  It would also allow for “cafe style courtyards” out of the easterly wind.
  •  It would allow all service vehicles to be removed from High Street, thus making a much nicer street area.
  •  It would make the current 1m wide lane way that the Duncan’s buildings have, safer and more usable. Currently it is small, dingy and ill-used. (Mostly as a toilet….etc)
  • Tied in with a new traffic plan for the street. it would be a win win for all the building owners and street users.

unbelievably, they do not have a complimentary plan for the traffic management/design in High Street, that’s a different department folks.  You must be kidding, I thought the point of the lane ways was to open out the backs of the buildings, thus getting better use of the buildings and creating new activity based on the rear of the buildings, as well as to benefit the streetscape by taking out the servicing vehicles, and create a cozy feeling about the place.  My bad!

Seems to me the purpose of the lanes at the moment is to rapidly transport a person from A to B, missing out the bit in the middle!  Coffee in the courtyard.   nah, someone has not got the point of the lane ways at all.!

Foolish me.  No road plan being done in conjunction with the lane ways?  They are missing a golden opportunity.  I am incredulous! I am afraid I was rendered speechless. What is also becoming increasingly clear to me is that the CCDU planners are working in isolation. (There is no liaison with the City Council planners.  We know that here in the city they have had their differences but for heaven’s sake, how hard is it for these 2 departments to get their heads together.  I will cheerfully bang both their heads together and offer to do the job for them.

I asked them if traffic and parking was to be allowed in the street, I did not get an answer.  Hello? any one home?   No one knew!  I am deeply suspicious that they are going to go down the road of a pedestrian walkway. (they really need to think this through,  if New Regent street retailers cannot, and are not surviving  and they have 19 open shops, 5 un-restored 11 vacant, (tenancy turnover has been over 50%.)

1 or 2  buildings open in our end of High Street, is not going to be very successful as a walkway.  It is setting us up to fail. We know that we are being set up to fail and that unfortunately it is inevitable. Sad indictment of their processes.

And so we proceeded:

It was patently obvious to me that we were a “nuisance” and “unreasonable” and to be got rid of as quickly as possible. Our intransigent and intractable views of their performance was annoying to them.

I am increasingly forming the view that a “VIP system” is operating at the CCDU/CERA.   The treatment of the small land owners has been appalling, where as, it looks like the “VIP’s” ie large developers and landowners in the city are being treated in a different manner to us. CERA/CCDU do not want to deal with the myriad of issues that the small land owners have. Certainly not a small land owners down the lower end of High Street. I understand their reluctance, but it leaves a very poor taste in our mouths.

Interesting that the VIP issue has raised its ugly head at EQC as well.   We all have heard “rumours” of the differing treatment that has been received by certain sectors of the community, it has been an open secret in the city for 3 years.  A pity that the residents of the east side, the hill suburbs and the elderly have not been party to this executive treatment. Link here.

Due to the “difficult” nature of this meeting, many of the questions we wished to ask were left unanswered:

Questions I have no answers to:

  1. Who is going to build the buildings that you want behind the Duncans buildings.?
  2. What actually do you see this lane way achieving?
  3. Who do you envisage using these lane ways?  ie Where do these lanes ways go to and come from ie the point of them?
  4. Are you going to pull the Duncan’s Buildings down?
  5. When is the impasse at McKenzie and Willis going to be resolved?
  6. Is the street going to remain open to vehicle traffic?
  7. Where is the traffic plan?
  8. Are there going to be parking meters in the street?
  9. When are you going to clear the rubble from the street?
  10. When is CERA going to come out and say Aloud and in public that these buildings will be retained, restored and are up for sale.
  11. WILL WE BE DEMOED? CERA has yet told us whether we are going to be demoed or not.  This is downright unbelievable.
  12. The lane way is 4 m, does this include the 1m that we already have a right of way over ie the lane way will be 5 m wide??
  13. What about the long-term parking issues – (from poly students)  this has been  problem for the last 15 years
  14. What about a slow zone…
  15. What about removing the blanked out/painted curtained windows of poly tech building. What about putting retail in the bottom of the poly building. as per original promise in 1990’s
  16. what about using the polytechnic Jazz school building as “incubator hub” for the fashion school ie sales of their products, also shift the poly restaurant to the street, and use the public as “guinea pigs” ie  tap into that innovation side.
  17. What about trying to frame the old post office building in the square from the end of High Street ie a clear unhindered un obstructed view. remove visual obstacles!  tall trees and lolly pops do not help that view.( Athfield suggestion in 1990’s)
  18. What about having a good look at the trees in the street, they are tall, obscuring frontage of Duncans buildings, as well as creating a mess and shading us and the lamp posts. (We have discussed this issue with a botanist and would suggest Coprosma Virescens (tiny leaves, 3-4 m high, native. light lacy look.  Local.)  Coprosma wallii ,  or pseudopanax ferox- fierce lancewood , Olearia lectori, olearia fragmatissima. (deciduous)  Why do we have to persist with old-fashioned English pin oaks, they are totally inappropriate.  ( apologies if any of the names are spelt wrong)
  19. What about the silly one way street plans and trapping a heritage block between 3 one way streets?  A 1960’s failed solution.

Just to list a few!

They fail to see that fixed rules/regulations or EDICTS as Joe calls them, will not make the innovation plan work. The area needs to develop organically.  Get some of the buildings up and running and see what happens.  The methods that you have employed over the last 3 years have not been successful, try something different.

ho humm just another day at the office.

Maybe that is their problem, they have no skin in the game, they just sit on their nice office chairs in their nice office and have lost sight of the true issues. While we as small building owners remain locked out of an undamaged factory for 3 years and slowly and publicly, in our case, bleed to death.  maybe that’s the aim???  We are being set up to fail!

Any good points come out of the meeting?? Summary of the useful bits:

  • designation may be lifted around July.
  • We have existing use rights (that must have stuck in their craw, light industrial in a mixed use retail/cafes/office and accommodation zone. Bugger ! I am surprised that they have not taken us out of the picture as well. Those existing user rights are a pain eh!)
  • Retail area, must not be over 150sqm
  • They are planning to do some remedial work on the Duncan’s buildings that they own, frontages only, than they will on sell. They own OVER HALF of the Duncan’s Buildings, (I suspect that they may have picked up a few extras since I last counted.)
  • There was a brief mention of the fact that EPIC Innovation tenants may pull out. That is a bit of a clanger!
  • I see that we have a revised tram plan, we will now have  a terminus in the middle of the lower High Street block.  ie it stops in the middle of the block and then goes back the other way.
  • There was mention of the heights of the new, to be built buildings behind the Duncans Block. (Not sure who will build them, that is unclear!)  The height of the neighbouring buildings is going to be critical, because we get minimal morning sun and very little afternoon sun on the lower floor.    We would have liked to retain or enhance  our sunshine hours (our morning sun is partially blocked by the Jazz school). Our feeling is that the 17m height restriction behind us, is still going to shadow the Duncans buildings.  I would personally like to see a more gradual height change behind the buildings.  These buildings are cold.

To cut a long torrid story short!

This is consultation for the sake of being seen to consult, there was no intention of listening to our views and even less of considering the merit of the ideas.  This was a meeting in the name of protocol only. I should have gone with my gut feeling and walked out after 10 minutes.

We did suggest that they should confiscate our neighbours, who have not fulfilled their section 38’s make safes. (Which has caused us to be still lumbered with a section 45, ie not allowed to open due to unsafe surroundings.)
They had the gall to ask how we would feel if we were confiscated.  ha ha, mass hysteria on my part!  We have had that threat hanging over our heads for 18 months, do you really think we care that much?  We will happily go, along with every other building owner left in the city.   They have taken buildings all over the city for a lot dafter reasons than ours.

  • We also suggested we wanted compensation because CERA is so toothless it can’t even get section 38’s done on our neighbours and its stopping us from opening. ha ha I am not checking my bank account for the cheque.
  • that the micro managing of the recovery was unnecessary and hindering progress.
  • the city was a doughnut and it was their fault.
  • We told them we are going to re-ply our frontage for security reasons.
  • We also told them that we had done our bit and now it was ‘CERA’s turn to cooperate. and sort out the neighbours.

And to finish it all off nicely we added that:

  •  it would be 3 years before these buildings are fixed.  (Denial of course.)  But we are not far from being correct. The frontages, which they seem committed to strengthening are the easy bit. The inside of every building is going to need to be gutted, the bricks needs to re-pointed.  The walls need to be strengthened, the floor/ceiling joists need tying to the walls, they need ring beams, they will need complete refurbishing, re-wiring, new sewers and water.  The cost per unit will be in excess of $300,000 plus fit out per unit.

On that note we left.  They will not be calling us back for cups of tea and cookies and we are off the “Chrissie card” list, again.

Our thanks to Gerald for acknowledging our departure.

They would not let us take a copy of the plan. (2  x a3 pages one designating the height restrictions to be put in place and one giving details of the lane ways. We were surprised that there were only 2 copies available and that we were not given a copy, digital era????? May be they need a new printer lol!  It’s not that hard to hand out copies to the affected land owners.

So I have drafted a rough plan below. I have drafted this from memory only.  Errors and omissions accepted. I fail to comprehend the secrecy, every building owner affected has seen and commented on this plan, except us of course.  I have shown only the Innovation Precinct.planrough draft from memory

I thought they wanted our views as land owners, but No, we are to put our views in writing when it gets publicly notified.  I think this meeting was all about “form and being seen to consult”. We do not get a say in this lane way, and we are a stakeholder in the block.  And I might add one that has been here since 1968.

oh  And are we having fun yet?

On the subject of CERA!

email  sent to CERA demolitions Wednesday 12 March 2014 12.30

Dear >>>>>,

Regarding the phone call I received a few days ago in relation to the section 45  which you are leaving in place on our building at 139 High Street, although you have accepted our DEE.

As our neighbours at 141 High Street have not fulfilled their obligations under their section 38 make safe notice, I suggest that CERA proceeds with the make safe themselves and removes BBS Australia Ltd’s half of the pediment at 141 High Street and charges said building owner the cost of doing so.

We will willingly and promptly remove our half of this pediment. (Which may I point out we have tied back on both sides at our expense.)

All attempts by us to communicate with the building owners in regard to their buildings has been unsuccessful. I suggest that you enforce your powers and act to honour your stated aim of assisting recovery.

Regarding the Spinks building at 135 High Street, I suggest that again CERA enforces the section 38 that is in place and either makes the building safe themselves or arranges the demolition or repair of the remaining structure –  Leaving the PARTY WALL INTACT.

The other option is, that you find an engineering solution for both Spinks and BBS Australia ltd  with containers, ply or propping.

We await your response.

Yours sincerely

Nicky Arts

To their credit I must say I got an almost instant reaction, much to my surprise.  They will let me know their answer,  “Next week”  I await with some interest to see the outcome of this.  As you can see I have offered to remove our half of the offending pediment.

139-141 High St Pediment

139-141 High St Pediment

As you will see from this photo, this will be an amazing engineering feat to achieve.  What fun!

Progress on the Building?

So what are we up to on the building.

  • “Sealing” the store-room walls so that I can re-arrange some shelving, to clean out the back of the building so we can begin repairs on the back wall.
  • sorting out a “solid plasterer” for the parapet, to try to solve the “Noah’s flood” we had last week. It was remarkably water tight given the shaking we have gone through and the amount of rain we had.
  • We have been up on the roof replacing some nails and sealing some iron that looks like it could be troublesome.
  • sealing around the floor and windows of the upstairs office to stop “hurricane like winds” blowing through.
  • Getting some crack injection work done on a concrete archway, so that it remains water tight.
  • Still Waiting for Building consent amendment so that we can gib downstairs.

On the house front:

Lets start to talk about “Southern No Response” (AMI Insurance company rebranded as “Southern Response” but derisively called “Southern No Response” by every Cantabrian insured with them) and Arrow (Project Managers)

I have not reported on these companies much for the last 3 years, the gloves are off boys and girls, my patience has reached it limit.

-House destroyed  22 February 2011
-It has taken 3 years to get in rebuild queue.
-Moved out of house: 10 February 2014
-Progress in the last month:     Disconnected and removed heat pump
-Disconnected power.

That’s one months worth of accommodation allowance used up:  11 more to go.

(I have since threatened to move back into the house as conditions where we are, are “difficult” to say the least.  They immediately the next day removed the windows. Considering that we are living in a couple of tents in a warehouse, I don’t think that’s going to worry us much. )

One of my friends further down the street, in a week, has his house nearly down to the base plate.  Note: he is self managing the build, unfortunately I am stuck with ARROW.  This was an error of judgement on my part, I should have opted out with a cash settlement.

Arrow, humm a new acronym for “Arrow” may need to be found. (whats faster than a speeding arrow?   tortoise??  ” Lost…. Arrow”???  humm this will need some thought and a few brandy’s)

The house plan is stuck at building consents, I have serious reservations about the competence of the designers.  (incidentally they have lumbered me with a waste water pump, which pumps up to the street.   I did not previously require this. (All because they have lowered the new house.  This is going to be a long-term liability)  Poor design.!


Maybe next week will be easier????

Apologies to all for any spelling errors, I am still with out a phone line, and the broadband is appalling

VODAFONE????????? Chorus???????? where are you??????

Building Consents Christchurch- snafu

I am afraid I need to start a new running total.

Re: Building consent for my new house.

Consent has been at Christchurch City Council Building Consents Department since approximately the 22nd October 2013.

Today is day: 53 -Working days- ie 3 months- AS FAR AS I CAN WORK OUT. And they have not even picked it up off the desk yet!

It’s a shame that you can not use 2 bedrooms in the house and that the roof is held up by scaffolding and that the outside walls are falling down. ( Note that this house has no internal timber framing.)  You can’t get to the cupboards in the kitchen because the propping is in the way. And for 3 years we have waited and waited and waited…..

The question is “would  Southern Response’s Peter Rose, John Key’s family or Gerry live like this for 3 years?”

Why have they made us live like this???

The positive bit is : At least it’s not knee-deep in liquefaction and sewerage.


The foundations are not getting any better!

The foundations are not getting any better!


All propped up, ready to go...

All propped up, ready to go…

The building company has just sent me an “update:”

“Just wanting to give you a brief update on your building consent application.
I have just received correspondence from the processor looking after your consent – he advised that the application has been reallocated to another processor due to going on leave until the 27th of January.
I have sent the new processor a progress report request, but in the mean time I thought you may appreciate an update as of when the office reopened.
I hope to receive an update if not an RFI within the next few days and I will let you know as soon as we’ve received anything. We understand that these delays are frustrating and we hope to see some progress soon.

Once we receive an RFI we generally allow a 10 working day turn around period for us to process any RFI as there is potential for a multiple parties involved in the response.

Please see below for a rundown of the application process and where your building consent is currently sitting at CCC.

ü  Building Consent Application Lodged
ü  Building Consent Application Acknowledged
ü  Building Consent Vetting Approved
ü  PIM issued
RFI issued
RFI resubmitted
Building Consent Application Invoiced
Building Consent Documents Issued

Let me know if you have any queries regarding your building consent application. If you have any queries regarding changes or your specification you can get in contact with …., or I can pass on any relevant queries for you.”

ho humm SNAFU….

53 days for a residential consent???? hello?????

“If you’re one of them bugger you…” 3 years on in Christchurch…

Locked out of undamaged factory for 932 days – (since Feb 2011)

Do we still own our building????    Now 405 days since designated “South frame, Innovation Precinct” – only 4 more years to go before we get told if we are going to be compulsorily acquired by CCDU.

I laughed till I cried this morning when I heard this song. It perfectly depicts the plight of many of us in Christchurch. It is a must view…..

Well here we are, 3 years on from the September 2010 earthquake. Lets spare some thought on what we have achieved.

The High Street Building is unfinished and unproductive, getting the builders and contractors on site is an ongoing nightmare.  Although we are being drip fed money by the Insurance company, I seem unable to get a full payout.  This comment in the paper by Andrew Gunn rather hit the nail on the head!  In a nut shell, the longer the insurer hangs on to your money the more interest he make!  Link Here:

CERA and the CCDU have total control of the city, and have made some extremely poor decisions.

The CBD is dead and completely flattened. Rebuilding seems many years away, while CERA and the CCDU worry about football stadiums, Convention Centres and swimming pools.

The Christchurch City Council appears dysfunctional.  Partly because CERA/CCDU took all their power away from them and partly because they seem incompetent.  Looking at the calibre of the candidates standing for the September elections I can not see this situation resolving itself.

The Labour, Act, New Zealand First parties still have a “code of silence” wrapped around Christchurch issues.  This “code” should have been broken long ago.

I have spent 3 years of my life fighting Insurance issues, both for my house and the High Street Building.

Personally:  My house is stuffed and I am still living in it. Although there are finally signs of possible progress. It is interesting to note that I have had 2 one hour meetings with the Architects.  That’s my lot folks!  A totally new house, on a new footprint, designed by a bunch of men with client consultation of 2 hours.  Insurance is great eh????

My brother’s house needs re-roofing and re-cladding, inside and outside.   He has just been threatened by Southern Response that if he does not make a decision about contracting out of Southern Response he would be put to the bottom of the repair queue. He signed the paper work to contract out and now they have not paid out.

There is a lovely article in the Press on Saturday by Beck Elven: link here:

She says: “Oh, but I remember it so very well. Phone calls, claims, paperwork, only to feel unheard, unanswered and out of control.”

I agree with her!

On a more humourous note. I see that my infamy continues:  John McCrone has written a very thoughtful article in the Press this morning. Link here:

I was rather amused by his comment, nicely put.

“Nicky Arts and her brother Joe own a printing shop in the 1905 Duncans Building, the elegant Edwardian row of shops down from McKenzie & Willis in High St.

He is a bit famous for leading a charge of business owners when Civil Defence first put the central city behind a wire fence red zone cordon.

Joe being subdued!

Joe being subdued!

She is a bit famous for her blog Shaky Town Blues, detailing how many days the pair have been locked out of their functioning printworks while their livelihood slowly goes under (930 days so far).”

A number of Comments by Ernest Duval are very interesting.

“The Blueprint’s squeezing out of the smaller fry was quite deliberate. The plan was seen as a once in a lifetime opportunity to re-imagine the central city in the broadest of brushstrokes.”

Duval says the Government made some miscalculations that are starting to show.

“First it expected more international investors to show up to take advantage of its blank canvas approach. But this did not happen largely because the global financial crisis left such firms with more than enough other choices.”

Regarding local investors Duval comments that: “So we had a resource sitting right on our doorstep which we should have engaged from day one.”

“And then it neglected to consider how the smaller local investors might react when they found the Blueprint plans shutting them out of the central business district (CBD).”

He also makes one comment that I think will have repercussions in the future:  that is Duval says “the upshot is already visible driving down Victoria St, Addington or anywhere else outside the central city. All that cash is being sunk into commercial properties, an excess of rental space, outside the controlled area of the Blueprint.”

He talks about “an excess of rental space outside the CBD”.  What has happened is that local investors have all built outside the CBD.  In 10 years time when, finally the CBD is rebuilt there is going to be a surplus of rental, mainly office, space outside the CBD. What this will do too future rental prices is the issues.  My pick is that in the short-term these spaces may be filled, but the number of businesses that have closed down or massively retrenched back to their homes and garages will mean vacancies in the future.

Ho humm another day in Christchurch.  Bring on the National elections.

Southern Response…. well this is interesting….

Locked out of undamaged factory for 815 days and still counting…..

Do we still own our building… Who knows 288 days….

Southern Response phoned me……. my gosh that would have to be a first.  After 2.3 years.  They phoned in response (ha ha no pun intended ) to a phone call made by a family member on my behalf who unbeknown to me had called them.  My efforts to get some action in the past 2.3 years have been fruitless, even though I am living/squatting in an unsafe demo.  I have emailed, phoned and done all I could to move them along.  They actually came and inspected the “retaining walls”. The ISSUE I was told!  The ones that are not really retaining walls, just heaps of rubble holding up a path around the side of the house. The long and the short of it is that they worked out that they are not a issue.  They will be demolished with the house and do not need to be rebuilt.

Arrow PMO ???  where the  hell are you????

I will go and bang my head against the wall for a while until I feel better.

This is what I have been telling them for 2.3 years.

ho humm another black hole at Southern No Response.

I see that they are patting themselves on the back about how well they have done.  They have cleared 30% of their claims.  ha ha I bet most of these are in the red zone and I bet they were demolished by CERA.  Lets see the figures.  If you look at the figures link below: they have rebuilt 104 houses since July 2011.  Under construction they have 149 houses.  At this rate I estimate it will be 25 years before they have finished rebuilding our houses.  (100 a year with approx. 2500 to rebuild)


An Interesting Opinion Piece by Mai Chen.

‘With less than five months until local body elections, politicians will soon begin campaigning on how they have and are going to make a difference for Cantabrians.’

Oh our patience is well and truly worn out now.  Bring on these elections, and bring on the national elections next year.  I think it will be a “Sea of red and Green” in the South.

Ho humm No progress on any fronts sorry.  High Street building is a black hole. Cera/CCDU is totally ineffective in pushing the recalcitrant building owners along, the globe building is still lying in the street after 7 months, my next door neighbours have not lifted a brick in 2.3 years. Progress stalled. Again.