Miles Warren, a prominent Christchurch architect, says it was 'scandalous' that a new sub-division was allowed on reclaimed land in the eastern suburb of Bexley. It has been hard hit by the earthquake. Most homes and sections are covered in deep layers of sandy silt and houses have lifted, cracked and sunk

Warren has pointed out that Bexley was once an old riverbed and should, in hindsight, ' have never been built on.'

Anywhere near a waterway, swamp or old creek has been particularly badly affected by liquefaction and subsidence.

Warren has been backed by Mark Quigley, a Canterbury University lecturer in active tectonics and tectonic geomorphology, who says suburbs had been built on areas known to be prone to liquefaction.

Bexley residents who have lost their homes , having got over the initial shock, are now beginning to express their anger and it is not altogther unrealistic to say that a class action could eventuate over the coming months.

Not surprisingly this issue, with its obvious political and legal ramifications, has provoked a game of 'passing the buck'.

Enterprise Homes built 150 houses in Bexley's Pacific Park subdivision over a period of 10 years.

Company Director David Renwick has pointed the finger at the Christchurch City Council. He says that all houses had to be certified to the engineering requirements of the city council.

Indeed the Christchurch City Council's role in the Bexley disaster is looking increasingly suspect.

Property lawyer Jim Keegan, told The Press , that information on suspect ground had been available in land information memorandum documents (LIMs), issued by all territorial authorities, for 10 to 15 years.

'The council have been pretty specific in terms of allowing building in certain areas proven to have peat or sandy soil that would require additional foundations because of the liquefaction threat,"

So did the Christchurch City Council allow houses to be built without the additional foundations?

In another veiled criticism of the council structural engineer Stephen Barrow said that the Bexley houses 'probably' should not have built on sandy soil 'but such zoning was up to the council'.

Mayor Sideshow Bob Parker has been quick to say that the decisions on new housing in Bexley had been made by other councils.

Parker told The Press: 'When those councils, years ago, made some of the decisions about residential areas, they probably did give it a lot of thought and take a lot of advice, and there would have been a diversity of opinions,"

'Historically, of course, there were already many, many houses built over on that [east] side of the city, but I think we have to revisit that.'

What Bob hasn't mentioned is that some of his present councillors have been on council for over ten years. They seeking re-election again this year.

Whether Parker likes it or not, it appears the Christchurch City Council has something to answer for.


  1. The developers had 3 rejections for building approval in PP area. On the 4th attempt it was successful. I wonder how much cash was thrown towards the CCC board members. Also the PP land is extremely toxic, in 1997 a old metal recycling yard was shut down, and the CCC released a statement about the condition of the land. approx 50years of extremely toxic soil will remain. Makes me wonder why anyone would risk living on toxic / unsteady land. All information was available.


Comments are moderated.