Circle jerking in Christchurch

A guest post.

Vicki Anderson says on Stuff today ‘Christchurch isn’t rebuilding. We are reimagining ourselves as a city’. Ironically she couldn’t be further from the truth.

Christchurch is a pig’s breakfast. Aside from the obviously slow physical transformation post earthquake the blame lays squarely with the bureaucrats who have completely made a hash of it, navel gazing and dreaming up a wonderful utopia.

But here is the thing: there are no less than four separate organisations filled with highly paid bureaucrats – all trying to do the same thing. And this is where the layers compound into one big fat mess.? ?

The first port of call is Christchurch City Council (CCC) which has always been a basket case. More than once it has been threatened with losing accredidation to process consents and whilst it has narrowly avoided that fate it has never improved.

Everyone hates Christchurch City Council and currently it has a bunch of external consultants out interviewing developers asking them to explain why they loathe the Council so much.

The reason is simple: their planning staff have created a District Plan that is wishy-washy and controlling. Nobody can make it work.

But that?s not really a surprise. Immediately after the earthquake the city was besieged with urban designers, architects and planners wishfully dreaming up how the city could become a utopian paradise.

How’s that going? Not very well by the looks of things. Half the city is a vacant wasteland. The east frame remains undeveloped. Developers are struggling to sell apartments and tenant buildings, and finance is drying up. With work slowing off, tradies have relocated to Queenstown and other cities.

Frustrated that progress is slow, the Council decided in its ultimate wisdom to create its own development arm, Christchurch Development, a subsidiary charged with regenerating areas of Christchurch such as New Brighton. Why? Because Council believes that developers and land owners are belligerent and resistant and assumed that it could easily develop itself. Fatal mistake.

Christchurch Development Limited (CDL) can’t transact. It has no money to buy land, no authority and no rights of acquisition, and aside from sitting around tables dreaming up ideas, staff can’t do and aren?t doing a thing. That’s a lot of people getting paid very well for achieving not much of anything at all.

That doesn’t stop CDL peeps meeting and planning and dreaming. Locals, observing that CDL cannot do a thing, affectionately term these meetings ‘circle-jerking’, which is sitting in a circle and – well you can work it out for yourself.

In the meantime, one floor down, Regenerate continues to waste vast sums of money wishfully dreaming up urban design utopian plans independent of Council and Development Christchurch.

Lead by an urban designer, Regenerate have more crayons and create more arrow and splodge drawings than anyone! It?s all dream big but no action….lately copping flack for their inability to finalise a plan for Christchurch square. It can’t be that hard can it?

And of course then there is Otakaro which morphed out of CERA. They are the limited liability company that inherited the land acquired by CERA and are charged with completing such projects as the convention centre and what to do with the red zone land etc. What have they done lately? Not a lot. But they are dreaming about it.

So what have we got? The answer is simple. Layer upon layer of bureaucrats and not one of them delivering a thing. Just dreaming and imagining and holding the city and land owners and developers to ransom.