Challenges in post-earthquake recovery of damaged and neglected buildings in Christchurch CBD


  • Olga Filippova The University of Auckland
  • Ken Elwood The University of Auckland
  • Toni Collins University of Canterbury



More than a decade since the 22 February 2011 earthquake devastated Christchurch CBD, partially demolished and neglected buildings remain present in the post-earthquake landscape. Christchurch City Council has made significant progress in recent years to reduce the level of neglected buildings across the central parts of the city. To encourage remediation of these buildings, the Council initiated the Barrier Sites programme to keep track of central city sites. This paper documents the current inventory of derelict properties and investigates issues that are delaying progress on these sites. We explore regulatory levers that can be used to influence action on these buildings (e.g. provisions in the Building Act and council bylaws). We also investigate how the local market drivers influence the speed of regeneration. Our review identifies gaps in the regulatory powers to act on barrier sites. Taking action involves meeting difficult definitions and tests under legislation and/or taking court proceedings. Specific legislative tools are needed to provide Councils with the powers they need to ensure action is taken on barrier sites to progress the regeneration of the city after a disaster. We also find that the delays in removing the cordon and uncertainties of the public sector anchor projects contained in the Blueprint have led to the loss of private investment and forced central city developments compete with more affordable commercial and residential offerings outside the CBD. With the passing of the 10-year anniversary of the earthquakes, this project offers a timely reminder of the mammoth struggles that the city has overcome evident in the numerous modern and resilient buildings, yet a few ‘battle sites’ slow the much-needed regeneration towards a resilient city centre.


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How to Cite

Filippova, O., Elwood, K., & Collins, T. (2023). Challenges in post-earthquake recovery of damaged and neglected buildings in Christchurch CBD. Bulletin of the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering, 56(1), 38–54.