Big-project delays revealed

GEORGINA STYLIANOU
Last updated 05:00 15/05/2014

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The completion dates of major Christchurch recovery projects, including the central library, new stadium and metro sports facility, have been delayed.

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee yesterday launched the public sector rebuild programme of work - an online information service on the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) website - that will keep Cantabrians, investors and rebuild companies updated on the progress across the city.

But the most recent information reveals some big differences to the timelines that were released in the recovery blueprint in 2012. 

The completion date for the central library has changed from the last quarter of 2016 to mid-2017 and the metro sports facility will be built by the end of 2017, instead of the beginning.

Other changes include the proposed stadium, which has long been down the bottom of the priority list.

When the blueprint was first released, the stadium was due for completion in 2017 but the new timeframes indicate a two-year delay. 

The 2019 timeframe remained to be confirmed and could be further delayed as the Christchurch City Council works through its financial troubles.

Construction of the public spaces in the south frame - which runs from Madras St and Hagley Ave - has been pushed back from 2015 to 2016 and the redevelopment of The Square has been delayed by about six months. 

The private sector-led retail precinct does not appear on the new website.

'REALITY CHECK'

Council finance committee chairman Cr Raf Manji believed the new timeframes were a ''reality check''.

''It was always going to take a lot longer than people expected.''

He believed the Government had chosen to back off the stadium because of the politics surrounding the project.

''Public opinion is against it and if people feel they are getting squeezed financially because of the stadium then it's much easier to take it out of the political narrative.''

He was confident the council could deliver on car parking and the central library within the new timeframes.

Peter Townsend, chief executive of the Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce, has for the past year repeatedly called for more information from the Government, and yesterday said he was ''delighted to see that the mould has been broken''.

''There is now an apparent willingness for both Cera and the CCDU to put relevant information out in big lumps.''

Townsend agreed the new timeframes provided a stark reality check but said ''there is nothing wrong with reality''.

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''Now we know the environment we are operating in and the business community can respond uncertainty is always the biggest problem.''

Brownlee said the information would provide a ''snapshot of projects and current timelines'' that would be updated regularly.

It would help suppliers prepare to meet demand and give confidence to investors and developers.

''We've listened to stakeholders within and outside of Canterbury about the need to provide visibility and transparency on our work programme, and to update them as things change,'' he said. 

CCDU general manager, project delivery, Greg Wilson said  its staff were working on completion of a business case for the metro sports facility.  

The timelines for the project would be clearer after that project. 

He said the CCDU has already publicly acknowledged that the original indicative timeframe for the stadium would not be met. 

''The stadium has always been the last of the anchor projects to be delivered and there is an adequate temporary stadium in place." 

- The Press

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