City Transformation Committee members have held off making a call on assigning planning funding to the proposed city museum, and left the issue ‘on the table’ for a month while they think about it.
At its last meeting of the 2017 year in December, committee members asked council staff to investigate the roles and responsibilities of a potential museum advisory group to help sort through value management design and planning processes for the proposed Cliff Road museum.
Using technical experts to provide an additional quality assurance check is an approach often used in complex projects or on specific complex matters within projects. The information from such an advisory group would give city councillors confidence in information provided to them to support future decision-making related to a proposed museum and central library.
The money is available. On December 19, 2017, Council approved an additional $200, 000 for the Heart of the City Programme to carry out further value management, design and planning processes associated with a proposed stand-alone Museum on Cliff Road. The advisory panel is estimated to cost between $10,000-$15,000.
“Having resolved to take the matter of the museum to the Long Term Plan, is it the right time for expert panels now, or should we be waiting to see what the outcome of the LTP is,” says Mayor Greg Brownless. “Presumably we are putting it in the LTP for a reason and that is to get public feedback, whatever that might be.
“Do we do this now? Do we spend this extra money now, or do we wait to hear what the public say with the LTP?”
Until the council decision in December the community though it was getting a $42m library, now it is a $30m library, says project planner Adele Hadfield.
The cultural facilities report in the agenda is based on a different level of investment and this needs to be explained to the community, says Adele.
Council staff have done a lot of work on co-design, community engagement which produced a lot of outcomes for the museum and library.
“What we have done now is jump to a new level of investment and we need to explain what are the trade-offs that have been made to get there,” says Adele.
The assumptions made about the appearance, size and function will have to be changed. Input from an advisory group could provide certainty in terms of costs and timing that could alleviate concerns raised by the community in the LTP consultation.
Chairman Larry Baldock says he was originally keen to see the library under way as soon as possible, but he’s now concerned an advisory panel will duplicate work that will be done by the partner the council is now in discussion with.
Value management would sit with them, and possibly the technical advisory group.
“Where does that expertise sit within our staff? Where is there any experience dealing with large projects that would deliver for us, or are we duplicating what would take place when we finalise a contract with a provider that can do all that, pay for it, deliver the cost savings,” says Larry.
Project planner Adele Hadfield says there is no value if the project doesn’t deliver to its purpose, in this case a library. The council may get a cheaper building but it might not deliver the library experience.
Larry says he’s not suggesting a development partner would build the library on their own.
He thinks advisory panel is getting the cart before the horse.
“I’m not convinced we are ready to fund any further work on that library until we’ve seen a response from the community that they want a new library.”
Once the community supports it the next phase is where value management starts to take place and by then the council in contract with a preferred development partner, says Larry.
Adele Hadfield says there is a need for the council to explain what it is asking the community to invest in.