2 July 2015
The Prime Ministers announcement that an urban development-type agency will be established to oversee the Christchurch central city rebuild is positive, but a jointly owned Crown and Council agency will be key to success and will better facilitate transition to local ownership, says Stephen Selwood of the New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development.
It is critical that the CBD redevelopment is completed with urgency and delivered seamlessly across the Crown and Councils respective asset holdings.
It is also crucial that the development agency is totally attuned to market needs, has the strongest possible procurement capability and can effectively manage capital project delivery and whole of life costs of public assets.
We are pleased to see decisions have not yet been made on the form of governance between the Crown and Council for a redevelopment authority, as agreement across the two parties is critical to the long term success of the initiative.
A single Crown-owned agency that is solely tasked with delivering Crown projects risks excessive focus on minimising upfront capital costs to the Crown while transferring risk for whole of life operational costs to the Council without adequate Council input and oversight in the initial project delivery.
Separate Crown and Council development agencies would be even less desirable.They would compete to recruit and retain the highest calibre expertise, would face difficulties in sequencing projects to market and would risk duplication of resources.
A jointly owned development agency governed by an independent professional board therefore seems a logical step. This would require the Crown and Christchurch City Council to agree the outcomes to meet tax and ratepayer expectations, set the budget and empower the development agency to get on with the job.
Separating the operational aspects of the rebuild from political processes will be essential given the proposed five year time horizon of legislation. Christchurch residents could potentially see one change of Government and two changes of council within that time.
A further critical issue will be resourcing the agency sufficiently to avoid regular cap in hand trips back to authorities. Funding and revenue allocations must be identified and agreed as part of the establishment of Regeneration Christchurch.
"A jointly owned independent delivery agency is typical across equivalently sized redevelopment initiatives and is consistent with global best practice, Selwood says.