Councillor slams blueprint detail delay

SAM SACHDEVA AND MICHAEL WRIGHT
Last updated 11:30 01/10/2012

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Repeated delays in releasing information behind the blueprint for the rebuild of central Christchurch are "ridiculous", a city councillor says.

The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) has come under fire for delays in releasing information about its Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU).

The CCDU released its central city blueprint on July 31, after it was given 100 days to devise a plan for the rebuild.

In August, city councillor Yani Johanson filed an Official Information Act request asking for Cabinet papers about the establishment of the CCDU and the development and signing off of the blueprint, as well as documents on cost-benefit analyses and economic feasibility studies for the plan's anchor projects.

Johanson received a letter on August 30 stating that his request had been delayed by 25 working days because of "necessary consultations" before the information could be released.

He received another letter this week, saying Cera's response was unlikely to be completed until mid-October.

Johanson said the delays were "ridiculous", given the time since the blueprint was released.

"They're already going out for expressions of interest on these projects, but they're not telling people the cost feasibility behind them - it's incredible."

Johanson said residents had a right to know the detailed costings of anchor projects. "It's fair that the people of this city, who are going to pay for a large percentage of these projects, can see how and why they were chosen."

A Cera spokeswoman said requests for the information had been delayed by the large number of documents related to the CCDU and blueprint.

The authority was also obliged to consult with "strategic partners" before it released the information, she said, and the authority would respond to the request as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, designers will soon be sought for the second of the anchor projects in Christchurch's central-city blueprint. The new convention centre has been identified by the CCDU as a priority project, and director Warwick Isaacs said a request for information would be out in about six weeks.

The three-storey centre spanning Gloucester St will be able to hold three conferences concurrently - one of up to 1000 delegates and two of up to 500 - and a 350-space basement car park will be open to the public when conferences are not on.

Two inter-connected hotels are planned for the site, one on the corner of Colombo and Armagh streets and another at the southern end.

The CCDU last week called for expressions of interest (EOI) for the first anchor project, the Avon River precinct, a series of parks along the central-city river banks.

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The convention centre is next, to be followed by the metro sports facility near Hagley Park.

"[The sports facility] had the least progress while we've been getting these other ones off the ground," Isaacs said.

"Obviously we've had to prioritise . . . because you can't do them all at once."

EOI documents for the Avon precinct had been viewed 496 times online, Isaacs said, and downloaded 331 times.

"That's very high, I would have thought," he said.

Design proposals are due on October 5.

There was some interest from overseas companies, Isaacs said.

- The Press

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