Provincial chambers repair bill $70m

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 06:39 30/05/2014
Canterbury Provincial Council building
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$5O MILLION: The earthquake-damaged Canterbury Provincial Council Buildings, pictured here in the 1920s, will cost $50 million to repair.

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Should the Canterbury Provincial Council buildings be restored?

Yes, they are NZ's best example of high Victorian gothic revival architecture.

Only if the cost can be brought down.

No, $70 million could be used for more important things.

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Restoring one of Christchurch's most prominent historic landmarks will cost at least $50 million.

The Canterbury Provincial Council buildings, on the corner of Armagh and Durham Sts, are widely acknowledged as New Zealand's most outstanding example of high Victorian gothic revival architecture, but the buildings were badly damaged in the February 2011 earthquake.

The stone chamber, built in 1865, collapsed in the earthquake and the stone towers at both Armagh and Durham streets had to be deconstructed.

The Christchurch City Council, which is determined to see the buildings restored, yesterday revealed the restoration work was likely to cost at least $50m, and maybe as much as $70m.

That is well in excess of the council's expected total insurance payout of about $30m.

Deputy Mayor Vicki Buck yesterday questioned where the extra money was going to come from and where the restoration of the buildings fitted on the council's list of spending priorities.

The council needed to start looking at the big picture and weighing where it was best to spend its money, she said. "If there is limited capital we need to start looking at which are the most important assets."

The council has secured some funding for the restoration of the buildings.

Last month, it was announced the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal Trust and the Ministry for Culture and Heritage were giving $2.5m towards repairing the historic complex's two stone towers.

The trust received about $100m in donations - money to help repair damaged properties across the city.

Work to rebuild the Canterbury Provincial Council buildings is to start this year.

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