Auckland to Whangarei motorway on the cards

fff

A motorway from Auckland to Whangarei has been flagged by Transport Minister Simon Bridges. Speaking at today’s sod turning to mark the start of the $709.5 million Puhoi to Warkworth motorway, Bridges said over time the motorway would extend to Whangarei, a distance of 162km.

Prime Minister John Key and Bridges turned the first sod during a tour of roading projects north of Auckland, including a new roundabout in the township of Waimaukau. Bridges said the Government had pledged to build a four-lane road of national significance from Puhoi to Wellsford and the entire corridor to Whangarei was very important.

“A lot of people talk about the Brynderwyns and the need for a very strong solution there. “You have got Northport up closer to Whangarei, which is again justification for doing a much more significant job all the way. “Whether that’s to road of national significance standard or something different to that I couldn’t say at the moment … but as Transport Minister I’m very attracted to progress more significant road improvements, not just through to Wellsford but up to Whangarei,” Bridges said.

He said realistically it was not five or six years away, but probably a decade of more away. New Zealand Transport Agency chairman Chris Moller said the agency was looking at the Whangarei to Auckland connection but a motorway could be 30 years away. The Puhoi to Warkworth motorway extends 18.5km over difficult terrain from the Johnstone Hills tunnels just south of Puhoi to just north of Warkworth.

sssCritics have nicknamed it the “holiday highway” to the intense annoyance of Northland leaders. The new motorway will have two lanes in each direction divided by a central median with a safety barrier. Both Bridges and Rodney MP Mark Mitchell stressed the safety benefits of the new motorway. Said Mitchell: “Safety is definitely a No 1 concern. Unfortunately the piece of road we have to use at the moment comes with hazards and we have too many serious injuries and fatal accidents on that piece of road.”

The project is the second public private partnership (PPP) for a state highway, after the Transmission Gully motorway in Wellington. Under the latest PPP, the Northern Express Group will finance, design, construct, manage and maintain the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway for the 25 years following a five-year build. The motorway is due for completion in 2021. Incentives built into the contract will ensure the motorway is one of the safest in New Zealand with lower grades and be more resilient to natural disasters and road closures.

Bridges said a decision had not been made on whether to toll the new Puhoi to Warkworth motorway. Route protection of the next stage of the motorway from Warkworth to Wellsford is underway. The NZ Transport Agency is planning to release an indicative route early next year. The Automobile Association is delighted that construction is officially underway on the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway extension. “Many people from outside Northland don’t understand what a vital step forward this is for us,” AA Northland District Chairman Steve Westgate said. “It’s not just about safer, quicker and more reliable journeys, it’s about the economic opportunities that come with it. This project will improve our connections with Auckland, New Zealand and the world.”

Source:

  • Bernard Orsman
  • NZ Herald

 

Advertisements

$200m hotel ready for 2018

2732d2a065c325feee5f01f2d26371c5175b91fb_620x311

Prime Minister John Key says a million Chinese tourists will soon be visiting here annually.

Making his prediction at a ground-breaking ceremony for Auckland’s new $200 million Park Hyatt, Key told more than 100 dignitaries in a waterfront marquee how he expected massive growth.

Quipping how he expected to be at the new five-star hotel regularly because he is often at events in hotels, Key said China was New Zealand’s second biggest market for tourists after Australia.

About 371,000 Chinese tourists now visit New Zealand annually.

“The question is ‘how long will it take before there’s one million?” he asked of annual Chinese visitor arrivals. “I would have thought within about three to four years there will be one million tourists from China alone,” he said.

Tourism New Zealand says China is New Zealand’s second largest visitor market.

“Its growing middle-class has seen sustained growth in Chinese visitor arrivals to New Zealand over the last five years. Increased air capacity from the two direct carriers, China Southern Airlines and Air New Zealand – with new players Air China and China Eastern also establishing year-round services in 2015 – has helped this trend,” Tourism NZ says.

Key was with a businesswoman said to be China’s wealthiest to turn the first sod at the site of the new hotel.

Madam Chan Laiwa, founder of Chinese real estate business Fu Wah, visited the Halsey St site in the Wynyard Quarter/Viaduct Harbour area, opposite ASB North Wharf.
She accompanied Key into the marquee to the call of a kaikaranga.

Source:

  • Anne Gibson
  • NZ Herald

 

A busy decade ahead!

SCCZEN_A_070115NZHNRWATERVIEW3_620x310

Waterview Project – Auckland

Around $110 billion will be spent by central and local government on infrastructure over the next 10 years – but more money will be needed from user-pays and other charges, Finance Minister Bill English says.

The Government has also announced it will develop national data standards for roads, water and buildings, which it hopes will avoid a “silo” approach to expensive new projects.

“Centres of excellence” will be established with people who can help government departments and councils with the analysis and presentation of data.

“Expensive and long-lived infrastructure assets won’t deliver the right results if planning occurs in silos,” Mr English said in a speech unveiling the 2015 National Infrastructure plan at the New Zealand Council for Infrastructure (NZCID) symposium in Christchurch this morning.

The plan contains 145 initiatives which are designed to help the country cope with ageing infrastructure, and increasing pressures from a growing population, much of which will occur north of Taupo.

NationalMegaProjectsAug20Mr English said there would need to be an increased focus on “non-asset solutions”, such as charging those who have a strong demand for the use of infrastructure.

“This isn’t a new idea. Taxes on fuel to pay for the National Land Transport Fund mean we already use demand management tools in roading.

“And all councils meter large water consumers. New technology will offer greater opportunities for managing demand for infrastructure assets over the next 30 years.”

Mr English said that such charges should not be used without considering benefits to improved infrastructure, such as increased productivity or well-being

“And charges for infrastructure use should never be used simply to raise revenue.”

A key focus of today’s plan is the need to renew ageing networks of existing infrastructure, Mr English said. That included schools, which have an average age of 42 years.

The Ministry of Education has recently surveyed all of the country’s state and state-integrated schools and found them to be in poorer condition than thought.

Damp, mouldy conditions at schools including Northland College and Western Springs College in Auckland have made headlines recently. Both those schools are scheduled for hugely-expensive upgrades.

“New Zealand’s population is ageing. The median age has increased from 32.8 years in 1996 to 36.9 years today, and is expected to reach 42.7 years in 2043,” Mr English said.

“This has implications for the types of services New Zealanders will want, the infrastructure required to deliver those services, and the available funding.

“Some of our regions will grow in size, while others will shrink. By 2045, the demographers expect another 1.2 million people to be living in New Zealand, with most of that increase expected to be north of Taupō.

“Those people will require housing, transport, electricity, water and telecommunications. They will also help to pay for it.”

Mr English also today released a pipeline of capital spending for central government departments, which he said showed the Government’s commitment to transparent dialogue with local government and industry.

When National came to power in 2008 discussions with councils and departments on infrastructure were often short-term in focus, Mr English said, but a smarter approach was needed to meet the significant challenges over the next 30 years.

Local Government NZ, which represents the country’s 78 local and regional authorities, last month made a number of proposals funding councils, including fuel levies, taxes on tourists, and collecting rates on Crown-owned land.

Those were dismissed by Local Government Minister Paula Bennett, who warned councils to look at their own spending and high wages rather than chasing the Crown or ratepayers for more funding.

LGNZ president Lawrence Yule, who has said local government is facing unprecedented economic and demographic change, welcomed today’s 30 year plan.

“While local and central government will not agree on everything, over the timeframe of this plan LGNZ will continue to drive strategic performance improvements across its infrastructure including the three waters, roading and transport, as well as a new partnership with central government on risk management of local assets,” Mr Yule wrote in a forward to the plan.

Today’s report notes that climate change is predicted to cause sea level rises of 30 centimetres by 2050, and that flooding is already New Zealand’s most frequent natural disaster at a cost of around $51 million each year.

Local authorities are already noting that the rising water table is hastening the degradation of pipes.

Source:

  • Nicholas Jones
  • NZ Herald
  • Photo: Nick Reed

Christchurch Soldiers On!

1431085048320Construction activity in Christchurch may well have plateaued, but rumours of the demise of the earthquake-induced construction boom have been greatly exaggerated, says Hugh De Lacy. You can’t drop $40 billion in insurance and government money on a region of fewer than half a million people without creating a construction boom, even if initially most of the money is spent on urgent demolition and repairs. Once those two phases were completed, new construction would continue to drive the regional economy for years to come.

That would seem to be the wisdom derived from Canterbury’s recovery from the earthquakes of 2010-2011, and rumours that the reconstruction phase has run its course and there’s a rapid wind-down in effect simply can’t be substantiated. The fact is that while most of the demolition of buildings, and the repair and reconstruction of infrastructure are well advanced, and despite Fletcher Earthquake Recovery (EQR) winding up its $4 billion residential repairs programme at the end of this year, construction is still booming in Christchurch and throughout the Canterbury region.

That’s not to say there isn’t a shakedown under way, and that a lot of smaller companies are dropping out of the game, especially in the painting and decorating niches of the building construction sector. But according to John Ombler, acting chief executive of the Christchurch Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA), there’s still growth in overall rebuild construction.

“The forecasts tell us that we can expect peak activity in construction through to about 2017, before an easing expected in 2018,” Ombler told Contractor. There are, however, variations in the level of activity of the various construction sectors.

“For example, EQC’s [the Earthquake Commission’s] Canterbury home repair programme is largely complete [but] at the same time there is still considerable repair and rebuild happening, and a huge amount of public sector work still in the pipeline.” This includes schools, tertiary institutions, health facilities like Christchurch hospital, the Metro Sports Facility and the East Frame residential neighbourhood. “We have just seen the opening of Christchurch’s new $53 million Bus Interchange, and work on the Justice and Emergency Precinct is well progressed.” Ombler said that overall building consent figures are on “a steady upward trend that we have seen every year since 2012”.

He noted that SCIRT, the Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team of leading contractors charged with the rebuild of the city horizontal infrastructure, is 70 percent of the way through its work programme. “Indicators such as economic growth and employment continue to show Canterbury leading the performance of major centres in New Zealand,” Ombler says. That may well be the case overall, but at the lower end of the food chain there are persistent reports of smaller entities falling over or copping out.

Paul Robertson, the principal of mid-sized construction and earthworks company Civil and Land, based in Amberley, North Canterbury, reckons there’s a slump in the work available for companies like his, which has a permanent workforce of about 20.He cites the case of the Hurunui District Council, the northernmost of the three districts and the city affected by the quakes, tendering out a five to 10 year road maintenance contract. “I’ve never seen so many contractors apply for it: you usually only get two or three, but 12 main contractors have applied for this one – which just shows there’s no confidence in the rebuild because contractors are now looking for work in the longer term,” Robertson said.

However, he did cite meeting health and safety (H&S) and compliance measures as a major burden for smaller firms. Fletcher EQR’s arrival on the local residential scene turned it upside down with its insistence on big-company H&S and compliance standards, and its assigning work to only those contractors and subcontractors who had passed through its induction process. Even in things like traffic management, small companies are struggling to get employees formally qualified to put out traffic cones, just so they’re entitled to tick the appropriate boxes on the paperwork. “Everything is bits of paper today, and if you don’t pull your bits of paper out you don’t get started,” Robertson says.

But while painters and decorators might be abandoning Christchurch for the fairer fields of Auckland residential construction, they’re not flooding car yards with second-hand ex-leased utes at Christchurch Airport as one rumour has it. David Crawford, chief executive of the Motor Industry Association of New Zealand, was quite upbeat when contacted by Contractor.

Sales figures of light commercials are still “staggering” nationwide, having gone up 25 percent in 2013, 19 percent in 2014, and 14 percent in the year to date. Crawford says luxury vehicle sales, the lead indicator of demand changes for new vehicles – which forewarned of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis by slumping 12 months before it, and afterwards began to recover about 10 months before the rest of the market – were still going strong, up “very slightly” this year compared to last.

And Dion Jones, general manager of Turners Auctions, the country’s biggest motor vehicle auction house, said repossessions and arrears in the light commercial sector were “as low as they’ve ever been”. This was despite companies “discounting the pants” off new vehicles to encourage buyers to ante up the extra couple of thousand dollars for a new vehicle rather than a used one.

So the shape of the Christchurch rebuild may be changing, and there may be challenges for small companies to adapt to the paperwork requirements of H&S and other forms of compliance, but the volume of work remains high. Brian Warren, chief executive of Christchurch’s Isaac Construction, summed it up by saying there may have been a drop-off in demand, “but it’s not as if it’s come to the top of a steep curve and dropped off the other side in a steep curve either. “That said, we certainly noticed a drop-off at the beginning of this calendar year. It’s come back a little bit now, but certainly it’s less than it was 12 months ago.”

That most telling barometer of economic activity, employment, bears Warren’s assessment out: Canterbury added 11,900 new jobs in the latest March year, though this was down from a peak of 34,000 added in the year to the end of last September, with most of those increases coming in the construction and food services industries.

Source:

  • Charles Fairbairn
  • contractormag.co.nz

Next stage for Christchurch rebuild

9bRMehChristchurch business leaders are applauding the Government’s transition proposal where the Government retains a key role in the Christchurch rebuild over the next five years.

They were concerned that the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) winding up next April year would leave a vacuum of leadership in the city and the Government’s commitment to anchor projects was flagging.

Ngai Tahu Property chief executive Tony Sewell said the proposal addressed every issue the business community had been concerned about.

He was happy with the Government’s “complete commitment” to building the Convention Centre and the Metro Sports centre. Ngai Tahu is part of a consortium chosen as the Government’s preferred partner to develop the Convention Centre.

Businesses had been concerned Government support for Christchurch was flagging “but it’s not.”

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee must report back to Cabinet by the end of August on the setting up of a new urban development authority, called Regenerate Christchurch, to lead the rebuild of the central city when Cera winds up in April.

The Christchurch City Council has set up its own development authority but the Government proposes now that its development authority should “integrate” with the council’s.

The Christchurch City Council and the Government are expected to work together to set up Regenerate Christchurch and decide what its aims are, what its functions would be, what powers it had and who would pay for it.

“They have clearly set out that there is going to be a relationship between Government and council, ” Sewell said.

Asked could the council and Government work together Sewell said “it’s not a can, it’s a must”.

“The voters and the ratepayers won’t tolerate a standoff.” Sewell said.

Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce chief executive Peter Townsend said the proposal was sensible,offered a staged and predictable transition with the Government roles slowing decreasing and the council’s increasing.

It relied on collaboration between central and local government, “which I applaud” and good strong commercial governance.

He expected the Government and the council to appoint the board members of Regenerate Christchurch.

The chamber had been “pushing strongly” for a governance model over the top of the rebuild projects and that was now going to happen.

Asked if Regenerate Christchurch was just the Christchurch Central Development Unit (within Cera) with a new name, Townsend disagreed with that and said the transition proposal was a step change with new legislation, new leadership and a new collaborative relationship between the Government and council.

He expected the government and council to appoint directors to the board.of the development authority. Those people would have strong commercial experience and project management backgrounds and tracks records.

The Government’s proposal referred to some of Cera’s powers expiring or going to councils and some role for Ngai Tahu.

Kaiwhakahaere of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, the tribal council of Ngāi Tahu,  Sir Mark Solomon said he was not aware of any detail on that.

He was on the advisory board, headed by Dame Jenny Shipley, that advised the Government. It called for a “demonstrable step-change in local leadership”.

Sir Mark said the advisory board wanted to see control start to return to the city though the Government still needed to be involved.

Hawkins Construction executive director Jim Boult said he was delighted the government confirmed its commitment to the Convention Centre and Metro Sports centre.

He would like to see timeframes on those two. The Convention Centre was “the lump in the throat” of the central city developing, he said.

Source:

  • The Press

SkyCity Convention Centre design unveiled

skydesign2It will be smaller, more expensive and have a reduced capacity – but those behind the International Convention Centre say it will return much the same economic benefits and provide even more jobs.

They also confirmed no new economic modelling has been done since a 2011 report which estimated a $90 million return to New Zealand.

Initial projections of benefits from the ICC were 800 jobs on completion, 1000 jobs during construction and $90 million of economic benefits to New Zealand.

A new design was released today by Economic Development minister Steven Joyce and SkyCity chief executive Nigel Morrison. Visually, it is one level lower than the previous design but the thrust of the changes is around a reduction in size and capacity.

It’s a different convention centre from the one SkyCity mooted in 2011 when it edged out four competing bids to build the centre, winning on the basis of a promise it would cost taxpayers nothing but a change to the gambling law.

The Government signed a deal in 2013 for a $402 million trade with SkyCity – the value of building the centre against the benefits derived from the gambling law change.

But it then found itself looking for a redesign after Mr Morrison said the centre could cost up to $530 million and might need an injection of public money, prompting the Prime Minister to express concerns over an “eyesore” if extra money wasn’t spent on it.

NZICC_HobsonStreetView_620x310Mr Joyce said this morning that the original benefits projected by the Government and SkyCity held true because they were based around a projections of incoming business which had not changed.

“We’re completely relaxed the numbers we have got in front of us today are able to accommodate the sizes that we’re estimated at the time. There is no material difference to the amount of business the centre is able to attract.

“There’s no substantial change to those metrics. From the Crown’s perspective those variations in cost have gone up and gone back but they don’t make a difference because we’re not paying for it. They certainly make a difference to SkyCity.”

In the time since SkyCity was selected, changes have included the value of the convention centre. It has risen from $350 million in July 2011 to the agreed $402m when the agreement was signed in June 2013, to an maximum $530 million earlier this year. It has now been pulled back to a minimum $430 million with a possible top end of $470 million, to be covered by SkyCity.

The size of the centre has also wandered from the 5000 sq m maximum, stated in a memo to then-minister David Carter in April 2011, to the 3500 sq m maximum in the June 2013 Heads of Agreement to the 2850 sq m in the revised design announced today. As well as conventions, the new design could accommodate 4200 people for a single event.

Other changes – which the Government and SkyCity said amounted to a maximum 10 per cent reduction – were a drop from the 10,000 sq m exhibition space heralded by SkyCity in its 2011 proposal Government to 8700 sq m and the eventual 8100 sq m in the latest design.

skydesignThe new design was captured in an updated Heads of Agreement between SkyCity and the Government, which has seen more authority over construction and design handed to the casino company – subject to a line in the sand drawn by Mr Joyce and officials.

“What we’ve done is said, ‘here is the benchmark now and everything will be measured against the benchmark’. The arrangement is SkyCity can’t depart in any material way from this design today. It shifts the balance slightly.”

This means SkyCity will now have to work to the minimum requirements laid out in the updated deal. It will reduce the company’s ability to renegotiate, as it has since the original agreement was signed.

Mr Morrison said design changes, including a laneway between the convention centre and the new hotel SkyCity is building, would lead to an overall increase in jobs, even if there was a slight change to initial projections.

“If it has changed, it’s 1 per cent. I think you’ll find the number of people employed overall will be increased. The jobs will be greater under this scheme than they were previously.”

On the economic benefits, he said if there was any change it was “nominal” and irrelevant.

He said there was a benefit in reaching the agreement announced. “Part of the savings is being able to get on with it and avoiding future escalation.”

The final hurdle for SkyCity is the resource consent, which was lodged with Auckland Council in December. The panel considering the application has the option of putting it out for public consultation – or approving it with its own authority.

Mr Morrision said it was SkyCity’s preference the resource consent not be publicly notified,. “To do this, we need to get on with this.” He said if the plan was put out for public consultation, it was difficult to know how long it would add to the completion date or how costs would change in that time.

Mr Morrison said it was still not possible to know when the convention centre would be finished because the resource consent had yet to be decided. Beyond that, there would be a three-year build period.

There were no current bookings, but about 60 firm expressions of interest had been made.

He said the shift in location for the hotel to land purchased from TVNZ had added to the value of the deal by $28 million, the current value of the land. The sections, on which SkyCity’s hotel will now be located, were bought from TVNZ for $10 million in 2013 for the building of the convention centre.

Told Mr Joyce had called the new design “handsome”, Mr Morrison said: “Better than eyesore,” a reference to John Key’s comments in February.

Mr Joyce said Mr Key had seen the design and was happy with it.

Source:

  • NZ Herald

Five-storey block for health precinct

11481552

The building will have up to five storeys in a campus environment.

Countrywide, headed by Richard Diver, is already revamping the old Deloitte House next door for the Canterbury District Health Board and has added 10 new office buildings to Victoria St.

Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU) acting director Don Miskell said the latest health precinct deal showed investor confidence remained strong in the city.

‘‘Our aim is to establish a firstclass precinct that brings together health-related activity, including education.’’

The precinct will span four blocks between St Asaph and Montreal streets, Hagley Ave and Oxford Tce and Montreal St.

Diver said the building would have health-related tenants on its four office floors, with shops and hospitality outlets at ground level.

‘‘It will be a beautiful building, it will look spectacular. We are talking to tenants now, from both the public and private sectors.’’

The company was doing design work now and hoped to start building later this year, Diver said. The building’s exact size depends on how any tenants are signed.

Source:

  • Liz McDonald
  • The Press
%d bloggers like this: