Police abandon Christchurch stations

Last updated 13:40 29/12/2011
Lyttelton police station

HISTORIC: The Lyttelton police station, pictured in 2009, is one of the oldest in the country.

Station
KIRK HARGREAVES/Fairfax NZ
MOVING OUT: Police staff are moving out of the central Christchurch station.

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Christchurch police are abandoning the central city station because of concerns about the building.

South Island Assistant Commissioner Dave Cliff today confirmed about 400 staff at Christchurch's central police station would be moved out of the 40-year-old building over the next couple of months.

The shift was a "precautionary approach", he said, prompted by doubts over the building's ability to remain fully-functioning should another major earthquake hit.

A temporary home would be used over the next few years while a new purpose-built facility was constructed for police.

Cliff said an engineer who was in the building during last Friday's magnitude-6.0 earthquake remained confident about the building's structural integrity.

"There's never been a risk - because of the construction type of the building - that it would fail in the way that some of those buildings did in February."

Police were, however, concerned about the affect another major tremor would have on the station's accessways, plumbing and electricity.

"That's the main police station for the South Island. We need to have a viable police station for obvious reasons."

An alternative spot had not yet been found, but Cliff hoped police staff could be kept together near the central city.

Meanwhile, the Lyttelton police station will not be repaired due to severe quake damage.

The station was badly damaged after the February 22 earthquake and sustained more damage in the series of aftershocks that have hit the region over the year.

Southern Area Commander Inspector Malcolm Johnston said after months of engineering investigations, it had proved uneconomic to repair the station, which was badly damaged in the February 22 earthquake.

''This is sad news for police, for our local staff and for the Lyttelton community,'' he said.

''However we have received advice that to repair the building to an adequate standard would cost at least $1.5 million dollars.

"That is significantly more than the cost of a new station, and is not economic. Last week's earthquakes caused significant additional damage, and will have further increased the cost of repairs.''

During the February earthquake the building suffered significant structural damage including extensive cracking to the main walls.

Police in Lyttelton have been working out of a garage adjacent to the station since February, and a portable building has recently been added.

Additional temporary facilities were likely to be added, he said.

Johnston said police may now look at developing a shared facility in Lyttelton with other emergency services including the NZ Fire Service and St John Ambulance.

''There's an increasing realisation that it makes good sense for the services to co-locate and share facilities.

"This provides us a good opportunity to look at whether such a solution would work for Lyttelton. At this stage no decisions have been made, and it's too early to say what any future facility might look like.''

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The station was built between 1880 and 1882, and opened in 1882, replacing an earlier structure.

- The Press

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