An urgent review of Christchurch's delayed $300m Metro Sports Facility anchor project has been ordered after the new earthquake rebuild minister learned it was facing a $75m budget blowout.
Minister for Greater Christchurch Regeneration, Megan Wood now wants talks with Christchurch City Council to see if the Metro Sports Facility, Taiwhanga Rehia, should be combined with the proposed multi-use stadium.
As incoming rebuild minister, Wood has been conducting a thorough review of progress on the anchor projects.
Discovering the $75m Metro Sports Facility budget blowout was "very disappointing", she said, and an "undue burden" on taxpayers and ratepayers for a project that is already significantly delayed.
"In fact, the facility was due to be opened by now, yet construction has not even begun. We can do better," she said.
Wood says the previous government's plan for an early contractor involvement process had seen costs balloon.
The project has also fallen further behind schedule, being delayed until the last quarter of 2020.
Now, Wood has scrapped the early contractor involvement and instructed officials to undertake urgent work to get the project back on track.
She has asked for Ōtākaro to complete the detailed design work itself and get ready to go out for a new build-only contract, to be completed by March/April 2018, which will see the facility opened in the first quarter of 2021.
An urgent review of options for the project has also been ordered, including talks with Christchurch City Council to see "whether it would be beneficial to combine part or all of the metro sports facility with the proposed multi use arena".
"This will allow us to test whether the assumptions made in 2012 about this project still hold up and we are still getting a facility that meets the city's needs and is fit for purpose," Woods said.
"This Government is committed to faster, concrete progress on the Canterbury recovery. We want action and momentum, not the delays and roadblocks we have seen in years past.
"We will act urgently, as we are aware we are inheriting a project that is already well behind schedule. Having this work complete by the time a build-only plan is ready means no time is lost by considering other options now."
After the review, Woods says she will be in a position about which option to proceed with and a construction timetable can be established.
Announced as part of the Central City Recovery Plan, the facility was due to open early last year.
Its design is now 80 per cent complete but construction has not yet started.
In 2012, John Key's Government set a budget of $206m in the original cost sharing agreement, expanded in 2015 to a design and build contract with a budget of $246.3m, funded by the Crown and Christchurch City Council as per the Cost Sharing Agreement - which limits the council's contribution to $147m.
Upon taking office however, the incoming Labour government was advised by officials that the final project cost would see the total construction cost of the project pushed up to $321m.
"The people of Canterbury were promised a high quality sporting facility. It's clear that the plan agreed under the previous government was not going to be able to deliver that without unacceptable extra costs," Woods said.
"I know we can't continue with the same approach and expect a different outcome. Today's announcement is about setting out a clear roadmap to deliver a fit for purpose facility that Cantabrians deserve."
Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel today backed the Government's decision to get the project back on track.
"The next few months required to complete the detailed design work and to get ready to go out for a new build-only contract has given the city a moment in time where everything can be examined without undue delay," Dalziel said.
"The city can now look at what we really need and this will include getting together with the sporting codes to double check that what was driving decisions five years ago is still relevant today. What was the case then, may not be now.
"This window of opportunity will enable us to think about the different elements of the metro sports facility and the multi use arena, as well as some of our existing facilities."