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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Blindingly Obvious 3

It is unfortunate that Gerry Brownlee and John Key feel the need to withhold vital information: the areas to be removed and the criteria by which "go or stay" decisions are being made. Despite that, we all know there will be people who will have to go, and that has to include a number of households in this area. For those of us who have to go, finding a new location involves dealing with issues and problems as raised in the first part of this blog series (here). There are other issues too.

Geographical location is more important than just the practicalities of social cohesion and mobility. Relocate someone onto the plains more than about 20km from Cathedral Square and they no longer live in Christchurch. Their identity, and identification with the city, has changed. Whatever time, effort, and money they have invested into the city will be a loss. What identity will we have? For some this is very important. Does the package deal with this? What support will be given to the new locations to replace the investments left behind (health centres, sports fields and clubs, libraries, community focal points, religious centres)?

As a small community of just a few streets, some of us have discussed the desire to be co-located if we go. The doesn't necessarily mean having adjacent houses, however being close together in the same street would be just fine. Achieving this means some of the core intangibles, a feeling of continuity and community, will come with us. Will the package allow for this, even if we are insured with different companies and have different levels of cover?

Those who are leaving communities and streets established many decades ago will be leaving an eclectic range of architecture, life styles, and gardens. How much of that will be transferable? Can Gordon's chickens come too? If G & K have to move, can they relocate their historic 100+ year old house and somewhat younger rabbit? Can any sound house be relocated? Does the package allow for these things? If so it would certainly create a community of diverse appearance.

Modern subdivisions are, however, often orchestrated by narrow minded style and quality police to the point that living there is tantamount to relocating to a communist country. Will the package allow for communities to be created in a way that reflects the values of those moving in? Will there be an absence of restrictive covenants that stop the expression of individuality in buildings, gardens, and domestic animals?

All these things can easily be checked against the package, and an assessment made. What if the options presented are unsuitable? This is a possibility, because those designing the package may have been tightly focused on cost, and overlooked the humane application of their creation. What provision will there be for fine tuning the package at the community or individual level? If there is, how will this be done? Where there is choice, how much time will there be to make an informed decision?

Stepping back from the individual level, who will be in charge? Who will have the responsibility for ensuring the quality and completeness of the process? Quality means many things. How will individuals be able to make informed decisions? How will the vast number of legal transactions take place? Who will pay for them? Who will ensure that when values, costs and prices are discussed they will be set at a fair and reasonable level? Who will orchestrate the whole thing? Will it be CERA, the three council's involved, or insurance companies jointly or separately? No matter how well the package is designed, it cannot work unless it is implemented with great precision and diligence.

Apparently John Key will be announcing something to various groups on Tuesday, and then we may get to find out ourselves on Wednesday. I wonder how that will happen, and how much detail we will receive. A progressive release would be acceptable as long as there was an indicative timetable showing what remains to be released, and when we can expect it. As a minimum we need to know the first cut on which streets are likely to go and who are likely to stay, the criteria used to make these decisions, the range of packages plus the why, how, and conditions of their application, and the geotechnical and economic information and decisions underpinning the lot. Hopefully CERA will be as good as the word of Roger Sutton and all information, good and bad, will be released on the day.

Roll on Wednesday.

Added 8.20pm - for the source of what may be happening on Tuesday and Wednesday see the Press article of the 16th of June here.

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