Council declines its own application

ANDREA O'NEIL
Last updated 12:52 24/07/2013

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Porirua Little Theatre cannot be demolished, Porirua City Council has been told by its own staff two months after the council applied to pull down the Titahi Bay theatre.

Last week the council halted its resource consent application after advice from its own regulatory team that the consent would undoubtedly fail owing to the building's heritage values.

Architect and conservator Ian Bowman advised council staff that demolition was likely to be declined by engineers Cardno.

Early this year the council got advice from conservation architects R&D; demolition was not R&D's preferred outcome but was an option for the council.

The double advice was because of the council's dual role as owners of the theatre and a body that considers consents, council communications and marketing manager, Barbara Bercic said.

As owners, the council applied to demolish but its consents arm sought separate advice, she said.

Ms Bercic could not confirm how much the council had already paid Cardno to consider its resource consent application. No more costs were being accrued now it had been halted, she said.

A new set of costings was now being drawn up to repair the Whitehouse Rd theatre to a minimal level, Ms Bercic said.

In April, engineers advised the council it would cost between $700,000 and $820,000 to rebuild the World War II-era theatre.

That is too expensive for the council, which will now look for a way to lift the unsafe and unsanitary notice from the building without bringing it to its original condition, Ms Bercic said.

A new set of figures should be available by the end of July.

Ms Bercic was unsure whether plays could be held in the theatre after its minimal repair.

The news was cause for celebration by the troupe, Porirua Little Theatre president Sandy Brewer said.

The theatre was committed to sharing the costs of any repair and could probably access grants money that the council could not, Ms Brewer said.

"We want to contribute because obviously we have a vested interest in getting back there. The building is getting more and more damaged as it stays there [sitting empty]."

It would be possible to repair the building for less than $700,000, Ms Brewer said.

Free labour could be provided by troupe members and the community, and materials could be donated, she said.

"There are probably cheaper ways to achieve a result."

Porirua Little Theatre is fundraising with an adults-only pantomime on July 26, 8pm. Tickets to Red Riding Hat are $15 and can be booked at 386 3717 or porirualittletheatre@gmail.com.

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