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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Lockyer Valley, Queensland - land swapping out of the flood zone

Ages ago, in January this year, the State of Queensland suffered unprecedented floods which caused loss of life, and major damage inland and around Brisbane.

The Lockyer Valley was the worst hit area and parts of it are considered unsuitable, and unsafe, for housing. Residents living in Grantham, Murphys Creek, Postmans Ridge, Withcott and Helidon have been offered a voluntary deal by the Lockyer Valley Regional Council: swap your old land for a new section in a safe part of the region. Their scheme is on a much smaller scale than would be needed in Christchurch, but shows what innovative thinking can produce. One aspect more generous than our EQC based system is the provision whereby residents will get a new section the same size as their old one.

The basics of the scheme are:
  • it is voluntary
  • it is free
  • it is designed to allow residents to rebuild within their communities
  • residents will be allocated sections the same size as the one they are swapping (like for like)
  • residents nominate their three preferences for a section
  • sections are allocated by formal ballot
The scheme is summarised in a master plan sketching how the new residential area is going to look, complete with new social, educational and recreational facilities (surprisingly no cricket pitch!).

The Lockyer Valley Regional Council has a website here. Information about the land swap proposal is here and a fact sheet here. The diagram of the Grand Plan is here, and Stage 1 here.

A question for us is whether Gerry Brownlee, or CERA, are contemplating something along these lines. Perhaps they are. Hidden away on the "About" page (now on CERA's home page) is the news CERA has opened a RFI (Request For Information) process to establish the plans and needs of property developers for the next five years. The last sentence on the page is:
The outcome sought is to identify what type, location and quantity of permanent housing supply is likely to be provided within the next five years by the residential property development sector (for purchase or possibly rental) in the greater Christchurch area.
This can be found here.

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