Two weeks ago, the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister, Gerry Brownlee, announced that a Red Zone Recovery Plan would be developed by the chief executive of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA). The Recovery Plan will be the new mechanism for offers to buy vacant, uninsured and commercial properties in the Residential Red Zone.

The preliminary draft of the Recovery Plan has now been released. The draft covers the detail of what a Recovery Plan is, and what its intended effect is. It also sets out the background for the Recovery Plan, including the initial Crown offers, and a summary of the Quake Outcasts judicial review proceedings.

The Recovery Plan then provides information about the three different types of properties that CERA is looking at: vacant, commercial, and uninsured. This information includes:

  • the number of properties involved;
  • the percentage of owners who accepted the original offer (noting that no offer was made to the Port Hill owners); and
  • average rateable valuations in 2007 compared with 2013.

It also describes the issues important to each category of property. This includes the lack of availability of insurance to vacant land and for the land component of commercial properties. For commercial properties, a relevant issue is the effect that the red zoning has had on the number of customers. The plan also refers to the unique issues raised in relation to the Port Hills because of the ongoing risk of rockfall.

At the moment, there is no indication of the sort of offer that the Crown/CERA is considering. The Recovery Plan does, however, provide a number of questions that people can consider when they make their submissions. These questions include:

  • whether there should be a distinction made between being uninsured and uninsurable;
  • whether the 2007 valuation should continue to be used, or a new value considered;
  • what has the impact of the red zoning been on the property owners;
  • what should be considered to ensure fairness and consistency, looking at people who received other Crown offers, other property owners in the Christchurch area, and New Zealand taxpayers; and
  • should there be different considerations within each of the types of property:
    • for vacant properties, should there be a difference in the way commercial developers are treated compared with private residential builds;
    • for commercial properties, should there be a variation based on the type of commercial property; and
    • for uninsured properties; should consideration be given to the reason why each property was uninsured.

The preliminary draft of the Recovery Plan is available here.

Submissions on the Recovery Plan can be made in a number of ways, including on the website, by mail, or by Facebook or Twitter. Regardless of the method of making the submissions, they must be made by 5pm on Tuesday 19 May to be considered.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.