Public Trust building 'repairable'

JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 05:00 07/02/2014

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Engineers who assessed Christchurch's heritage-listed art deco Public Trust Office building found it was repairable.

High-profile city businessman Ben Gough's company Tailorspace Investments has applied to the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) for a section 38 notice to demolish the building, at 152 Oxford Tce. Cera says a decision is "imminent".

News of the company's demolition bid has riled heritage advocates and Press readers, many of whom said the building should be saved.

The New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT) has also been in contact with Cera and recommended the building be retained.

Designed by renowned architect Cecil Wood, the 1922-1925 building is a group 3 protected heritage site in the Christchurch City Plan and a NZHPT category 2 historic place.

Trust southern general manager Rob Hall said Cera asked the trust to help "inform their process" in regards to the building last December.

Cera provided the trust with additional engineering information about the building, "which concluded that the building is classified as earthquake prone and that the damage to the building is repairable", Hall said.

The report made recommendations on the earthquake strengthening required to get the building to 67 per cent and 100 per cent of the new building standard, he said.

The trust's response included a summary of the building's significant features, economic cultural value and its contribution to the urban environment.

Earthquake-strengthening was carried out on the Public Trust Office building by Cequent Projects in 2009, with the work including new shear walls to the full height of the building.

According to Cequent Projects' website, following the February 2011 earthquake, it also "managed the repair and seismic enhancement design of the building, including a grout injection solution to 20 metres and re-levelling of the 5 level building and heritage facade".

It was not clear if this work was carried out, and Press inquiries were referred to Tailorspace. Gough and Tailorspace have not returned calls.

Gough is controlling shareholder and deputy chairman of Gough Holdings, one of the city's biggest family-owned companies. His relative, Antony Gough, is behind a $140 million Oxford Tce development.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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