Steel argument demolished

The demolition of a central Christchurch building has revealed it has a large amount of steel reinforcing, a heritage advocate says.

However, Manchester Courts co-owner Richard Peebles and Mayor Bob Parker rejected the claim yesterday.

They said there was less structural steel inside the earthquake-damaged building than first thought.

Demolition opponent Ross Gray released what he called "clear photographic evidence" that the seven-storey building contained large amounts of structural steel.

He has written to Government ministers, criticising the Christchurch City Council for approving demolition because it focused its decision on protecting the lives of those who breached the cordon and not on the ability to save the 104-year-old structure.

Gray called for an "urgent and extraordinary meeting" of key parties.

"This special meeting could thus ensure that citizens and visitors, local and international, can continue, like many generations over the past years, to take great pleasure in this iconic building."

He said Manchester Courts did not collapse after the September 4 quake and none of its "exterior fabric" had been lost in the thousands of aftershocks.

"Workers have been operating on the upper levels with no special restraining safety equipment and have been observed to saunter in and out of the building," he said.

"Clearly, the owners, OSH and Southern Demolition do not actually believe that the structure is in imminent danger of collapse."

Peebles said there was "substantially less steel than we first thought".

He admired Gray and others for their persistence, but the evidence showed there was "nowhere near enough steel" to save the building.

Parker said "nothing has changed" since the council decided last month to approve a demolition warrant. It decided there was risk to life.

The Press