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Christchurch convention centre build to proceed without PCNZ after negotiations fail

Wednesday 29th June 2016

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After protracted negotiations, the government has ditched the construction consortium it picked to build Christchurch's replacement convention centre, which it now anticipates delivering at least two years behind the original schedule.

In August 2014, Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister Gerry Brownlee and Prime Minister John Key announced the government had chosen a consortium made up of Plenary Group, Ngai Tahu Property and Carter Group to build the convention centre, to which it committed $284 million. Construction was then expected to begin in 2015, with the centre open for business in 2017. Christchurch's recently built convention centre was demolished after the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes.

Brownlee said in a statement today that the consortium, Plenary Conventions New Zealand, had done the early design and master planning for the centre, but the parties had mutually agreed PCNZ would not continue to work on the project. The government will start looking for other contractors to finalise the design and construct the facility in early August, he said. 

The government has been in negotiations with PCNZ since announcing the consortium as its preferred developer. In its Major Projects Performance Report for the three months to October 2015, Treasury said Cabinet had recently approved a funding envelope so negotiations could proceed, and Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority thought a go/no-go decision would be made by December that year. 

In May this year, Prime Minister Key told Christchurch's daily newspaper The Press that the government would not be "bullied into signing off on a deal" and described the negotiations with PCNZ as "intensive" and "tense". 

Brownlee released an updated timeline today, showing the government anticipates contractor procurement will be finished by mid-2017, foundation excavation done by the end of next year, and main construction finished by the end of 2019. 

"The government remains absolutely committed to a precinct that is world-class, and offers quality accommodation, hospitality and retail to support the convention facilities," Brownlee said. "Having certainty around this project is important for the city's forward planning, and I thank everyone for their patience as we took the necessary time to make this decision on the path ahead."

Preparation work such as telecommunication re-routing will begin immediately, Brownlee said, and a section of Gloucester Street from Colombo Street to Oxford Terrace will close by the end of July. Substantial earthworks will begin in October, he said.

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