12 Sep 2017

Christchurch's justice precinct formally opened

5:25 pm on 12 September 2017

Christchurch's multi-million-dollar justice precinct has officially opened, after long construction delays, and some services should be operating out of it by next month.

The southwest corner of the precinct which is believed to house the youth court.

The precinct is one of Christchurch's anchor projects. Photo: RNZ / Logan Church

The facility, overseen by the Ministry of Justice, is one of the city's anchor projects, and will house the courts, emergency services and Civil Defence, in the central city.

The project was originally expected to cost about $300 million, but at a recent political debate, National candidate for Christchurch Central Nicky Wagner said it would cost the main contractor, Fletcher Building, an extra $100m. The company posted an 80 percent profit slump this year, with the justice precinct believed to be a major contributor.

The Ministry of Justice missed the initial handover date in February 2017, and Treasury said in a report released in June it was losing confidence it would be completed on schedule. The ministry then said the facility would be opened by mid-2017.

Prime Minister Bill English and Justice Minister Amy Adams at the opening of Christchurch's new Justice Precinct.

Prime Minister Bill English and Justice Minister Amy Adams at the opening of Christchurch's new Justice Precinct. Photo: RNZ / Logan Church

Opening the precinct today, Prime Minister Bill English said it had been built with speed and efficiency given its ambitious timetable.

Mr English said the building would bring a "couple of thousand" people into the city every day, for work or to visit the precinct.

He said locals would soon see a new way of dealing with people in the justice system because all of the emergency and court services would be under one roof.

After touring one of the new district courtrooms - still smelling of fresh paint and new timber - Amy Adams said the precinct was worth the wait.

"It's definitely run overtime... but once the building is up and running those delays will be far less important," Ms Adams said.

Today, some furniture was still wrapped in plastic, no art was on the walls, and the court's airport-esque security screening was not yet in place.

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said the fit-out was nearly finished.

RNZ has previously revealed parts of the precinct had to be redesigned when it was found that police prisoner vans did not have space to turn around.

Contractors also had to go back and install frosting in the youth court after a local judge raised concerns about the privacy of youth offenders.

The Justice and Emergency Precinct, Christchurch seen from the air in October 2016.

The precinct under construction. Photo: Ministry of Justice

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