Ques­tions over gallery blowout

Auckland City Harbour News - - News -

The Auck­land City Coun­cil says it has yet to find a way of cov­er­ing cost over­runs of $2 mil­lion to $2.5m for the Auck­land Art Gallery re­de­vel­op­ment.

The ad­di­tional costs, re­sult­ing from lengthy En­vi­ron­ment Court pro­ceed­ings, were re­vealed at a coun­cil fi­nance and strat­egy com­mit­tee meet­ing last week.

Since the first re­source con­sent for the re­de­vel­op­ment was granted in Septem­ber 2006, ap­peals by three in­di­vid­u­als have re­sulted in court costs of up to $700,000 as well as re­lated costs.

A six-month de­lay in the start of construction has meant ex­tra costs of more than $300,000 from con­trac­tors Hawkins.

An in­de­pen­dent her­itage ad­viser based in Syd­ney re­quested by the En­vi­ron­ment Court has cost up to $100,000 in fees and $50,000 in con­sul­tant fees re­sult­ing from her de­ci­sions.

In ad­di­tion, a land­scape plan re­view by an En­vi­ron­ment Court ex­pert cau­cus has cost $300,000 to $500,000.

Com­mit­tee chair­man Doug Arm­strong says it’s ap­palling that the ac­tions of three in­di­vid­u­als could cost ratepay­ers mil­lions.

“It’s not as if we’re prop­erty de­vel­op­ers try­ing to rip any­one off.”

He says the first step will be to try to cut costs and find sav­ings within the project, but that might only save up to $500,000.

Cur­rently the coun­cil is con­tribut­ing $48m to the $113m project, with $30m com­ing from cen­tral gov­ern­ment and the bal­ance of $33m to be raised by pri­vate donors.

Mr Arm­strong says it would be un­fair to ex­pect donors to cover the ex­tra costs.

“It will prob­a­bly need to come from in­creased bor­row­ing at the end of the day.”

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