Conservatory renovations near completion

23:00, Jan 22 2014
NEARLY THERE: Craig Foote from Supreme blast and paint is tasked with giving the conservatory a new paint job.

Behind the gardens, foyer and aviaries at Palmerston North's Esplanade, new framing around the Peter Black conservatory is nearing completion.

The conservatory was closed last June because of the danger posed by glass panels falling from ageing timber framework whenever it was windy.

Replacement or restoration of the 60-year-old Peter Black Conservatory has been a project on the city council's books for nearly a decade.

It was one of the survivors of a $9.7 million redevelopment plan for the Esplanade that was shelved in 2009.

A plan to demolish the conservatory when it became unsafe prompted public outrage and more than 200 submissions calling for it to be retained.

Council senior property and parks planner Aaron Phillips said the $400,000 left in the budget could not be made to stretch to rebuilding or replacing the conservatory.


Instead, the supporting structure was being rebuilt, and the patchwork of glass was being replaced with stronger panes.

Half were already in place and survived Monday's magnitude 6.2 earthquake without cracking or shattering.

Council planning and policy committee chairwoman Annette Nixon said the decision to strengthen rather than rebuild was a cost-effective one that would ensure the ongoing health of a quality collection of plants.

Mr Phillips said plans for the Wild Base rehabilitation aviary development at the Esplanade would fit around one side of the refurbished conservatory, although one staff-only glasshouse at the back was likely to be removed.

On the other side of the conservatory, some ageing aviaries for exotic birds would give way to a new garden to accommodate a collection of bonsai currently stored at the Albert St depot.

The go-ahead for the Wild Base project, for which the council has set aside $737,000 in this year's budget, depended on a successful application for Lotteries funding.

Mr Phillips expected that decision next month.

The goal for re-opening the conservatory is Esplanade Open Day on Sunday, February 23.

Manawatu Standard