Bid to save old Nurses' Home

"What would it cost to build it today?"

HELEN HARVEY
Last updated 05:00 04/06/2014
nurse
ANDY JACKSON/FAIRFAX NZ
Plantation Design House Director Michael Mansvelt has started a 'Save Barrett Street Nurses Home' Facebook page which has quickly gained almost 1500 likes.

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A Facebook page has been set up to try to save the old Barrett St Nurses' Home.

Last year the Justice Department decided to demolish the buildings, which were deemed an earthquake risk and had asbestos, after it estimated that to repair or replace the buildings would cost about $50 million.

Te Atiawa has put an offer to the Government to buy the land, but it wants it cleared of the buildings first.

Landscape designer Michael Mansvelt said he had a rant on his own website about the old building and got a good response so, he set up a Save the Barrett Street Nurses Home facebook page.

It received more than 1400 likes in a couple of days.

"I read in the paper last year it was going to be demolished and I am in the design industry and I know what it would cost to build buildings like this. It was built to such a high standard."

He would like to facilitate a discussion about what could be done with not only the nurses' home, but also the old children's ward.

People have stories and memories about the building, he said.

"I remember this, I remember that. It's a little bit more than the old nurses' mansion itself.

"We cannot look at this building in terms of what it will cost to fix it. It has to be looked from the point of view of what would it cost to build it today."

But whatever was done would need to be commercially viable, he said, such as a retirement village or a centre with a tennis court, garden centre, day spa and cafe.

Te Atiawa negotiator Peter Moeahu said the Barrett St property was definitely in the land bank settlement, but it wouldn't be released from there until legislation went through Parliament and that could be up to two years away.

"In the meantime we're developing plans around the site. We've made an offer for all the Crown's properties, but the Crown is not in a position to decide whether or not to accept the offer, so we just have to wait until legislation goes through Parliament."

The iwi has asked the Government to clear the site as part of the settlement process, he said.

"We understand that a paper is going to Cabinet for that purpose, but until that goes through I can't comment."

He has heard a number of suggestions for the site that cross the "whole social and community spectrum", but at this point he couldn't comment on what they were, he said.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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