Work on new pool to start 2013

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 05:00 27/09/2012

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Authorities want work to begin on Christchurch's new metro sports facility and convention centre by the end of next year but have yet to acquire any of the land needed for the project.

The sports facility and convention centre are two of four anchor projects identified by the Christchurch Central Development Unit as top priorities in the rebuilding of Christchurch's earthquake-hit central business district.

The other two projects are the Avon River precinct and the eastern frame.

Most of the land required for the Avon precinct is already in either Crown or Christchurch City Council ownership, but the CCDU needs to acquire 324 land parcels for the other three projects.

It has set a December deadline for completing negotiations for those land parcels, but despite sending out letters early last month advising landowners that their properties could be compulsorily acquired under the powers of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act, it has received completed questionnaires relating to only 103 of the land parcels.

The completed questionnaires are critical to the acquisition process as they are designed to provide the CCDU with enough information to come up with an offer for the land so that negotiations can get under way.

The CCDU has said its preference is to obtain the land required through negotiation rather than having to resort to compulsory acquisition.

Some central-city landowners have said they have no intention of filling in the questionnaires because they see the process as an unfair land grab by the Government.

"I'm not surprised there's been such a poor response rate so far," said one landowner, who asked not to be identified.

"People are understandably sceptical about the process and are in no hurry to give over the details Cera wants."

CCDU director Warwick Isaacs said the rate of return for the questionnaires was as expected.

Asked when the CCDU would move from negotiation to compulsory acquisition, he said no decisions had been made.

Negotiations were under way with some landowners, but it was too soon to say when the first acquisition would be completed, Isaacs said.

Overall, the CCDU needs to acquire 1315 parcels of land for anchor projects in the CBD.

It has received questionnaires relating to about a third (430) of those parcels of land.

With most of the land required for the Avon River precinct - a series of parks along the central-city banks of the river - already in Crown or council ownership, the CCDU called for expressions of interest from landscape designers keen to be involved in the development.

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It plans to start design work next month and hopes construction will begin this summer. The project will be delivered in stages by 2014.

The expression-of-interest documents - the first stage of the tender process - for the convention centre and the metro sports facility have yet to be finalised, but Isaacs said the aim was to have construction under way on both by the end of next year.

The ballpark cost of both facilities is $342 million, and the Government has signalled that it expects the city council to provide the bulk of that funding.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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