Christchurch moving forward, says CERA boss

9:07 am on 22 February 2012

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority chief executive Roger Sutton says he's happy with the progress made in getting Christchurch back on its feet.

Mr Sutton told Morning Report the city is moving forward and houses are starting to get fixed.

However he says there's still "an awful lot to do" and for many people there is still much frustration.

Mr Sutton says he's making sure he fronts up and listens to people dealing with difficulties and does what he can to deal with the more urgent issues faced by communities.

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee says it's important to build an air of optimism about what can be achieved in Christchurch.

He says the innovation people have achieved has been extraordinary in the face of huge challenges.

Mr Brownlee told Morning Report some of the anger and frustration local residents have been expressing is about individual circumstances and is understandable.

"But if you step back a bit and look at the size of the event, this catastrophe that we've dealt with, it is big and it takes a while to play that out."

Mr Brownlee feels the agencies involved in the response have worked very well.

He says the city council is made up of a lot of people doing a good job, but there are one or two areas where it can improve on its performance.

The city's recovery

In the aftermath of the 22 February earthquake, 60% of Christchurch CBD floorspace has been lost, and in the meantime, businesses have set up shop in outlying suburbs.

A draft central city recovery plan has been put together and awaits Government's approval.

Mike Theelan from Christchurch City Council, who is leading the project, has firm ideas of what the city will look like in a decade's time.

There will be a modern new purpose-built retail core, he says. "We'll see the key businesses in the centre, courts, the lawyers, the key Government departments, all established in the central city."

Mike Theelan believes businesses that have dispersed to the suburbs will want to return.

Alec Bruce, co-convenor of the Christchurch Urban Design Panel, says the city will continue to keep its focus around the Avon River and then spread out into hubs, each with a dedicated purpose.

Mr Bruce says in 10 years there will still be a lot of vacant land in the city and scope for more green spaces.

He says grass roots enthusiasm for a high-quality rebuild is strong, and it needs vision and leadership to happen.

Getting transport and building issues sorted as one, not treating them separately, is the key to the new Christchurch according to traffic and transport planner, Andrew MacBeth.