Looters And Bulldozers On The Streets Of Christchurch

Bexley Road

The NZ Herald is today reporting that a whole street of damaged properties in the suburb of Bexley will have to be demolished after the land beneath them liquefied in during the magnitude 7.1 quake that hit the Christchurch area on 4 Sept 2010.

Seabreeze Close, in the suburb of Bexley, yesterday had four diggers ploughing silt and sewage off driveways into 2m-high mounds in the middle of the street. The street, part of a residential development just three years old, is one of the worst-hit in the earthquake. More here

Interactive Map:  Google Street View, Seabreeze Close before the quake

In their report the paper also spoke about looters moving in to houses that had been abandoned in the quake, something that is going to be harder to control as people start to move more freely in damaged areas:

The only neighbour who had stayed overnight reported looters in vans entering houses. “To think of someone coming into our house and taking our stuff on top of all this is too much.”  More here

As we predicted, questions are already being asked about why development was permitted in certain areas.

There is the potential here for permitted development in areas known to be liable to liquefaction, to be as big a liability for local planning authorities as the leaky homes debacle is.

In some places on the flat up to 90% of properties have been damaged by liquefaction. There are lessons to be learned here for the future suitability of certain types of land use in New Zealand:

Some of the surrounding area is hardly damaged, but as soon as you turn into Seabreeze Close, there is a scene of devastation. Residents think it is because the land had been a swamp, sucked dry and filled with dirt for the subdivision. They say the development should never have been built.

“They’re going to bulldoze the whole street. It was a great place – nice, friendly neighbours. Mostly first-time owners,” said Annette Preen, whose house had splintered and been drenched in silt. It was an immediate write-off. “We’ll just have to abandon it. We’ll all have to leave here.” More here