Council to consider hospital demolition

LAIRD HARPER
Last updated 08:06 08/11/2012

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Finding a solution for the crumbling Patea Hospital is back on the agenda.

After years of frustration, letters and petitions, South Taranaki District Council is now considering opening up its chequebook.

At a council meeting on Monday, councillors backed a Patea Community Board proposal to start investigating the possibility of buying the facility and knocking it down.

The idea was met with a mixed reaction but the concept was passed by eight votes to five.

Sold to Whanganui man Basil Anderson in 2002, the 2.2-hectare property has been plagued by vandals and is now considered by many to be an eyesore.

Community board chairman David Honeyfield said 10 years on, the small coastal community had had enough.

"It's back in the debate and hopefully we can get some sort of successful resolution out of it," he said.

"The community is getting quite niggly about it."

Mr Honeyfield said clearing out the hospital site would "cut the last of their strings to the past" and help them move forward.

The Taranaki Daily News understands the council had been making some progress with Mr Anderson in cleaning up the site, but there is no regulation forcing him to do anything.

The investigation already has some staunch critics and even if it was a viable option it may not make it past local politicians.

Councillor Mike Powell questioned the logic of even looking into the idea.

"There are instances where it might be prudent to have a good look at it, but it's a blinkin' eyesore and has been, from what I can gather, from the day [Mr Anderson] bought it," he said.

"So what would make council the least bit interested in purchasing it now is totally beyond me."

He said the district was "crammed full of dilapidated buildings" and buyers needed to take responsibility.

"I don't believe it's council's business to be saving them."

South Taranaki Mayor Ross Dunlop said it was far from a done deal but it needed to be discussed.

He said once council had some figures in front of them they could decide if it was a realistic option.

Mr Anderson, who talked to the Daily News yesterday, said he was open to a "realistic offer".

He had planned to salvage and sell the bricks and timber.

"I wasn't looking at selling but maybe I could look into it," he said. "At this point I just don't know. I'd be mad to give it away."

He said he was yet to hear from council.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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