Empty land

PHOTO: Plots of empty land are a constant reminder of the damage caused by the earthquake.

Owners of vacant land in Christchurch‘s CBD are about to be stung with higher rates if they don’t clean it up.

Fergs Coffee

Rates will be hiked by four times – a move that developers and investors have labelled as unfair – and it’s got the support of an unlikely ally.

Plots of empty land are a constant reminder of the damage caused by the earthquake. The city and its Mayor Lianne Dalziel want to change that image.

“What we’ve said is, ‘Why don’t you make the site look good’.”

If not, property owners will be charged four times the normal rates.

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“Instead of looking at the site as an undeveloped site, which means they pay their rates on the land only, we start to look at their site as if it were developed and that’s what we charge the rates on.”

Dozens of sites across the city are still vacant more than a decade after the earthquakes. Despite that, six councillors voted against the new rating scheme.

Councillor Aaron Keown changed his mind after hearing concerns from the owners.

“The property owners come in and said well that’s a great intention, problem is there is no line of tenants waiting to go into these places.”

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Developers and investors Newshub spoke to wouldn’t go on camera but some argued the rates are unfair and that money is better spent working on plans rather than tidying up a site.

Even the former Earthquake Minister Gerry Brownlee under the previous National Government backed the decision made by Council.

“There’s been kind of about three or four years of inactivity or very limited activity and I think it’s time to give them a shot in the arm, this may do it.”

But what about the land like the stadium. It sits vacant while the debate on what to build goes on.

“No sites that are under a consenting process will fall under this policy,” Dalziel said.

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