The landscaping design for Pukenamu Queen’s Park has been reduced in scope after concerns over costs.
The Whanganui District Council awarded the design contract to Warren & Mahoney with a price of $425,000, target="_blank">a figure that left Deputy Mayor Helen Craig “gobsmacked” in July.
Now, only the first stage of detailed design - of areas surrounding the Sarjeant Gallery redevelopment - will be completed immediately.
Council property and open spaces general manager Sarah O’Hagan told a council operations and performance committee that would reduce the contract price by around $90,000.
“When you break it down into activities and the scale of the work involved, all of the landscape and immediate surrounds of the gallery have been disrupted through the construction period,” O’Hagan said.
“To put that back into a condition akin to a premier park, which is what it is, was where the lion’s share of effort was always going to go.”
Council chief executive David Langford said a lot of the effort of the design process went into community and stakeholder consultations.
There was not much opportunity to pare that back to save money.
“The detailed design and engineering pieces are a relatively modest component of the overall thing,” Langford said.
“It’s a saving nonetheless. In the current rates environment and cost of living crisis, it’s certainly going to give some reprieve to the cost on council.”
He told the Chronicle that after the $90,000 reduction, the council would still end up with an overall concept design - “a master plan for the whole park” - but a detailed design for the first stage only.
“Then we can always do a detailed design on stage two and beyond in the future if the community is prepared to fund the project to go any further,” Langford said.
“We will always have a master plan in the bottom drawer, particularly if we get opportunities for central government or other external funding.”
Langford presented an extensive report about the project to the committee.
It said a similar landscaping project in Auckland had a total cost of $110 per square metre.
If that amount was used at Pukenamu Queen’s Park, the budget for the whole project would be $5.5 million.
“With regard to how much of the total budget should be allocated towards design costs, the NZILA [New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architects] notes that this typically ranges between 6.5 per cent to 16 per cent when a full concept and detailed design service is needed,” the report said.
That would mean a minimum design price of $357,000 (6 per cent of total cost) and a maximum of $880,000 (16 per cent).
Langford’s report said the council had been approached with a design concept by landscape architect Richard Reid in 2002, which would have cost $24,000.
Feedback on the design was mixed, with some in support and some opposed, and after a consultation process, the council resolved to undertake no further work on it.
“Since 2002, Mr Reid has restated his offer, including a generous offer to hold the cost to the original offer made in 2002,” the report said.
“Given council has previously made a resolution to not proceed further with the Richard Reid concept, this was not an option council officers could pursue outside of the formal procurement process.”
Speaking at the committee meeting, Craig said she was sure there would be “reasonable interest” from the public about draft designs and asked when they would be able to see them.
O’Hagan said it was “dangerously close”.
“I would expect that to happen this month.”
Mike Tweed is an assistant news director and multimedia journalist at the Whanganui Chronicle. Since starting in March 2020, he has dabbled in everything from sport to music. At present his focus is local government, primarily the Whanganui District Council.