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CERA unit to take control of Christchurch CBD rebuild, Brownlee says

Wednesday 18th April 2012

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Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee has directed the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority to set up a new unit tasked with implementing the Christchurch CBD rebuild plan.

The Christchurch Central Development Unit has 100 days to come up with a blueprint that will deliver on Christchurch City Council’s draft plan to rebuild the city’s central business district, Brownlee told an audience in Christchurch today.

The plan will identify the location of anchor projects such as public buildings and strategic city blocks, and will examine how to streamline consent processes and what land amalgamation needs to be done to support developments.

“International experience suggests we have a three-year window of opportunity to get the rebuild and recovery framework underway,” Brownlee said. “The scale of the development of central Christchurch and the scale of reinvestment requires us to put in place extraordinary functions so that construction can take place in a coordinated manner.”

Brownlee shelved transport plans flagged in the first volume of the council plan, saying those options need to be considered “in relation to greater Christchurch” and that any commuter rail service would need to fit a wider strategy.

Last month, CERA boss Roger Sutton told Parliament’s finance and expenditure committee his organisation is working through some $2.5 billion of infrastructure reconstruction, with water, sewage, electricity and telecommunications networks at the front of the queue before new roading.

Brownlee said he has accepted most of volume one of the plan, which deals with the vision for the city, its precincts, distinctiveness, heritage and green spaces. A decision on volume two, which focuses on changes to the district plan, have been put on ice until the CERA unit prepares its blueprint.

“Today’s announcement is not a commitment to financing all the projects presented in the central city plan,” he said.

The new CERA unit will be headed up by Warwick Isaacs, who has been CERA’s general manager of operations and responsible for the CBD cordon, security and demolition of buildings.

The unit will also take responsibility to undertake development and investment promotion, and will schedule and coordinate construction once it gets underway.

BusinessDesk.co.nz

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