Work kicks off on justice precinct
John Key turns sod on huge Chch projectGLENN CONWAY
Two high-powered digs into central Christchurch land marked the start of the biggest multi-agency government project in New Zealand's history.
Prime Minister John Key and Justice Minister Judith Collins simultaneously turned the sod in the centre of what will be the city's new justice and emergency services precinct - the first major public building to be built in Christchurch since the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011.
It will be one of nine anchor projects the Government said would start construction this year.
More than 20,000 cubic metres of soil - the equivalent of eight Olympic-sized swimming pools, will be excavated from next week. It will be mixed with 2500 tonnes of cement and placed back into the ground on top of a heavy-duty 1.2 metre-thick concrete base.
Representatives of the city's justice and emergency services community attended with Courts Minister Chester Burrows and Christchurch Central MP Nicky Wagner.
The new precinct will house about 1100 staff and be the regional headquarters for the Ministry of Justice, New Zealand Police, Department of Corrections, New Zealand Fire Service and St John. It will also be the city's Civil Defence base.
The precinct is expected to be fully operational by mid-2017.
Meanwhile, Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said another eight anchor projects will also start construction in 2014.
They were the bus interchange, retail precinct, health precinct, South Frame public realm, the performing arts precinct, North Frame and Margaret Mahy Amazing Place, the innovation precinct and the Metro sports facility.
The convention centre concept is also taking shape with proposals from prospective operators due to be evaulated in March.
Brownlee said "roughly'' three-quarters of the land needed for the convention centre precinct was now owned by the Crown and he hoped the area would be cleared by August.
- The Press
How do you feel about the city's first anchor project, the Avon River Precinct?Related story: Vision of city by the water