Trafalgar Centre's future known soon

KATE DAVIDSON
Last updated 13:00 07/03/2014
Trafalgar Centre
MARTIN de RUYTER/Fairfax NZ

WHAT NEXT? A decision about the Trafalgar Centre will be announced next week.

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The fate of the closed Trafalgar Centre is likely to be publicly revealed next week.

The Nelson City Council (NCC) yesterday discussed the future of the centre, closed in December because of its earthquake risk, in a publicly excluded meeting.

Nelson lawyer Ken Beckett criticised the decision to go behind closed doors.

But Mayor Rachel Reese said discussions on the Trafalgar Centre had gone in-committee because the council had to seek legal advice as they were entitled to.

"We have a building that is earthquake prone. We have to consider how we make that building safe and what our obligations are in the terms of public safety," said Ms Reese.

The mayor hoped to publicly release information the council has received on the centre and its decision about the next step on Tuesday.

Ms Reese said it was important the public had access to the information, which had informed council decisions.

Before the public was excluded from the meeting council staff were given an opportunity to respond to questions from two vocal opponents to the closure of the centre

Nelson Residents Association vice-president Kerry Neal, and Nelson property investor Gaire Thompson have called for the centre's reopening after questioning what they regard as the council's over-cautious approach. Mr Neal called the process leading to its closure "a mockery".

Ms Reese asked for officers to reply because "the matter has caused considerable public comment and I have felt that the officers have been disadvantaged by the information that is out there that is not actually accurate in terms of the advice that the working engineers have done."

Council group manager of infrastructure Alec Louverdis said the consultants appointed had "the full suite of information required to undertake a full assessment" of the centre.

"Officers confirm that the structural consultants are fully aware of the existing foundation, the existing post tensioned cables and in fact all aspects that go to make up the structural elements of the building. The assessment from the structural engineer confirms that the existing foundations and post tensioned cables are inadequate to cater for the current new building standards."

There has been some debate about the depth of the piles at the site. Mr Louverdis said "the piles of the main section are 3m deep," but it was not the depth that was ultimately important, but the type of the piles and the foundations.

"Once again our structural consultants are fully aware of the type of construction that the piles were used and confirmed that they are inadequate," he said.

Information on the building had been gathered from building files, reports on how the building was constructed, and from those involved in its construction.

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- The Nelson Mail

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