Work on Christchurch sports facility site to start in a matter of months
The start of work on Christchurch's $300 million metro sports facility is in sight with initial work at the giant section to start around October, Otakaro Limited confirmed on Monday.
The anchor project has been much-maligned, with Sport New Zealand previously "strongly against" a cheaper, smaller option that was initially considered. The facility, billed as the second-largest of its kind in Australasia, is to be built off St Asaph St near Hagley Park.
Sporting organisations said they were struggling without a prominent indoor facility in Christchurch.
An Otakaro spokesman said the facility was in its preliminary design phase, but initial "enabling works" would start in the next four months.
"Demolition work at the site has been completed with hydrological testing set to be carried out in the next few weeks.
"Enabling works will begin around October," he said.
The preliminary design phase followed "significant consultation" with local and national sports bodies and public input on the facility's leisure water area, he said.
Canterbury Basketball Association general manager Paul Duggan said the organisation was currently "stretched" for indoor facilities in Christchurch.
"The frustrating part has been the uncertainty [around the sports facility] I guess. We are just so desperate at the moment," he said.
He believed it was too early to tell when the actual completion date would be "until you get started".
There were still "questions to be answered" around access and time slots for various sporting organisations when the facility was finished.
The association was looking forward to being able to host national tournaments again.
"Which we haven't had in years," Duggan said.
Netball Mainland chief executive Brigit Hearn had been critical of the anchor project in the past, saying the delays could have been avoided if consultation with the sports sector was taken into account before the Government unveiled it's central city blueprint.
It was welcome news that enabling works would start in October.
"Look, it continues to be a long wait, not just for netball but for indoor sports. We are five and a half years down the track and the sooner they can get on the better.
"We've gone from a completion date of 2017 to 2020," Hearn said.
She said there were not adequate indoor facilities for the amount of netball being played in Christchurch.
"For Christchurch, you know, the second largest city in the country, the lack of indoor facilities has been an issue," Hearn said.
Documents released to Stuff in 2015 showed the cost of the facility was estimated before "any geotechnical investigations" were undertaken. Testing later confirmed ground conditions were "worse than expected [with] liquefiable soils with poor bearing capacity".
Some soil on the site was also contaminated with asbestos and on Monday Otakaro's spokesman said the company was still considering options for disposing the asbestos.
The company did not know how much the asbestos would cost to remove.
Nor could it confirm how much asbestos was on the site or how much land would have to be removed.
In August 2015, the Minister supporting Greater Christchurch Regeneration, Gerry Brownlee, announced additional funding for the facility had been approved to ensure it met the sporting needs of the region.
It was understood the Crown's funding cap had to increase by about $83m, bringing the project's total cost to $300m, up from $217m.
Government-owned Otakaro Ltd operates as a commercial property company charged with delivering Christchurch's anchor projects.