Complaint over hall demolition plan

Last updated 08:43 06/05/2014
Hutt City Council 3F

LAST GASP: Option 3F retains the town hall and links it to a civic and conference centre alongside.

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A community group has fired off a formal complaint to the Hutt City Council over moves to demolish two historic halls.

"We're really down to the last-chance saloon here," Hutt of the Heart spokesman Jenny Sands said.

A critical 100-page report has gone to every councillor, though one has already binned it. In November the council voted in favour of option 3E+, demolishing the heritage-listed town hall and Horticultural Hall to make way for a new $10.5 million conference and civic centre.

After an outcry from Hutt of the Heart, local architects, and Heritage New Zealand, the council added another option.

Option 3F keeps the town hall, with an atrium linking it to a civic and conference complex, at a cost of $16.4m.

The Lower Hutt community is being asked to show which option it supports through the draft Annual Plan. Submissions close on May 16.

Heart of the Hutt spokeswoman Jenny Sands said the council had failed to consult the public over the initial decision to demolish the hall.

While the matter was now in the draft Annual Plan, she feared November's decision had started the ball rolling towards demolition.

A 100-page report by Hutt of the Heart said there were "serious defects" in the process followed by the council.

"It's not every day a council agrees to demolish its town hall. And it's not every day decisions like this, involving millions of dollars of ratepayers' money, are made without the public being properly consulted."

Copies of the report have gone to all Hutt city councillors.

Councillor Max Shierlaw wrote on the group's Facebook page: "Just to let you know I threw your unsolicited parcel delivered to my home, straight into the rubbish bin without reading it."

Copies were sent to the Ombudsman and Office of the Auditor-General New Zealand, Sands said. It might ask them to investigate if it was not satisfied with the council's response.

Deputy mayor David Bassett, who chairs the council's seismic working group, said he had received the group's complaint, but had not had a chance to read it thoroughly.

"Clearly they have raised a number of issues, and they will be responded to."

A candlelit vigil for the halls is planned for 6.30pm on Thursday.

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- The Dominion Post

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