Shock as council closes up centre

Last updated 05:00 03/11/2012

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The Hei Hei Community Centre will close after the building was found to meet only 18 per cent of the new building standard.

Christchurch City Council said yesterday that the building had failed a detailed engineering evaluation and must close.

The council has been carrying out assessments on all of its buildings after the earthquakes.

Engineers assessed the Hei Hei centre as having a seismic capacity of only 18 per cent of the new building standard and was therefore quake-prone. The assessment showed parts of the eastern and western sides of the building had unreinforced masonry walls, which were a critical structural weakness.

City councillors have agreed to close all buildings assessed as below 34 per cent of the new building standard.

Riccarton Wigram Community Board chairman Mike Mora said the announcement had "come out of the blue".

"We weren't expecting this at all. It was a shock."

He said the centre had been "a godsend" after the quakes.

"So many other facilities were knocked out but ours was OK. All sorts of groups use that place - exercise groups, dance groups, church groups, you name it."

The community would meet tonight to discuss options, Mora said.

Council community services general manager Michael Aitken said the council was aware of the centre's importance to the Hei Hei community and the disruption its closure would cause.

"We're conscious of the inconvenience this will cause the community groups who use the centre and others who have booked the venue for upcoming events," he said.

"However, the safety of those using the centre is paramount and it's important that they are not put at risk in the event of more earthquakes."

All long-term decisions about the centre would be made as part of the facilities rebuild plan.

The closest alternative council-owned community centre is the Harvard Community Lounge in Corsair Dr, in Wigram.

The facility has undergone an assessment and is above 34 per cent of the new building standard.

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- The Press

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