Future of Feilding's old courthouse still unclear

LUCY TOWNEND
Last updated 12:00 25/10/2012

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The future of Feilding's old courthouse remains unclear as policies affecting earthquake-prone buildings are reviewed.

More than a quarter of buildings in Feilding's central business district were deemed quake-prone by Manawatu District Council last year, and among them was the Edwardian-themed Feilding District Court.

Its permanent closure was confirmed earlier this month.

Under the council's District Plan, protected heritage buildings must be either strengthened or demolished to ensure public safety.

Because the plan is under review, the protection status of quake-prone buildings will be up for debate when it heads into the public consultation phase.

Council senior planner Deborah Kissick said the list of heritage buildings may change.

"We review all of the buildings on the heritage schedule as part of the [District Plan] review.

"If it was deemed necessary to keep it on the schedule, we would do that, but the category [the courthouse] fell into would determine what changes could potentially happen to the building and whether they would need resource consent."

At present, a resource consent is required for plans involving heritage A and B building categories, with category C buildings able to be modified through advanced notice to the council.

The courthouse is a category B status building, meaning a council resource consent could be required for any plans, including demolition, alterations or strengthening work.

There have been suggestions the building could be used for a cafe or restaurant.

"We haven't completed the review of the schedule as yet," Ms Kissick said.

"Once we've done that, we'll be in a position to make recommendation to the council about whether the building should remain on the list or not."

The council has called in expert heritage architect Ian Bowman to help with this.

The building is owned by the Justice Ministry, which has said it is too early to say what will happen to the property.

Regardless of whether a resource consent is required, the ministry is the decision-maker for future plans.

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- Manawatu Standard

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