The earthquake-risk Lower Hutt Town Hall has been closed and will likely remain so for at least 18 months.
As was reported last month, it was thought that temporary bracing of the east and west walls of the 1950s-built hall would be sufficient until the rebuild of the city's civic centre gets underway.
However, council chief executive Tony Stallinger announced this morning that the cost of the temporary bracing was found to be too expensive.
Hutt News understands the initial estimate of less than $20,000 had escalated to between $50,000 and $100,000.
It was felt it was better to close the hall, and find a permanent solution as part of the civic precinct overhaul.
Work on the project, which includes the Town Hall, Horticultural Hall and council's administration block, is set to start in 12 months with a meeting planned for December to finalise designs.
Engineers have confirmed although the hall has stood strong for more than 50 years, in a significant earthquake there is a high risk the east and west walls between the stage and seating balcony could be dangerous.
Mr Stallinger said the decision to close the hall was not taken lightly.
As well as being too expensive, installing the temporary bracing would disrupt the use of the hall over coming weeks anyway.
"Closing the hall and working on a long-term solution to strengthen, modernise and reinvigorate not only the Town Hall, but the entire civic precinct, is going to provide our city with facilities that are not only safer, but more suited to the immediate and future needs of our community," he said.
"We understand the closure will upset the plans of people who have booked the hall, but given bracing the walls is no longer an option, closure is the only way we can ensure their safety.
"Everyone with a Town Hall booking during the next 12 months will be contacted and we will work with them to investigate other venue options."
The adjacent Horticultural Hall can still be used. Only very large events in the past have required use of both halls.
One event organiser, Mark Hampton, said closure of the hall was "a real blow.
"But we understand council's decision, and hugely appreciate their help in shifting this Saturday's 'Deadly Debut 18' (national kick-boxing event) to the Wellington Indian Centre."
- Hutt News
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