More than 128 Christchurch buildings face demolition

KEITH LYNCH
Last updated 19:41 01/04/2011

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Christchurch Earthquake 2011

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The face of Christchurch is about to change, with Civil Defence confirming at least 128 buildings in the city centre will have to be demolished and more may follow.

At this afternoon's media briefing, director of planning and transition for Civil Defence Warwick Isaacs said demolition orders had now been issued for 128 buildings, 37 in the city.

Thirty-seven require partial demolition and 12 will have to be made safe.

Isaacs also revealed it was likely another seven ''critical buildings'' would have to come down, but this had yet to be confirmed.

These are: the Rolleston Court apartments, New Zealand College of Early Childhood Education, Community House, BDO Spicer Christchurch, the Hotel Grand Chancellor, Harcourts Grenadier and Kenton Chambers.

Isaacs said the critical buildings were ''generally'' over five storeys tall, on an important thoroughfare, and potentially posed a danger to other buildings.

Other building, including high-rise towers, may end up joining the critical list.

Some work on critical buildings was imminent, while further planning would be needed for the high-rise buildings such as the Hotel Grand Chancellor.

Isaacs had no update on how the leaning hotel building would be handled.

High-profile buildings on the list for demolition include The Press building, Christ's College, Caledonian Hall and St Paul's Church.

About 100 demolitions had already begun in the city.

''Apart from St Elmo towers, most are probably low-rise buildings and once you've seen them it's pretty obvious as to why they're being worked on,'' Civil Defence national controller John Hamilton said.

The demolitions were ''very selective'', which could raise problems for future planners as to how they ''factored in'' remaining buildings, he said.

However, many badly hit buildings were in clusters, including parts of High St, City Mall, Manchester St and Colombo St.

Other well-known high-rise buildings including the Crowne Plaza, Clarendon Towers and Forsyth Barr buildings were not on the list, despite sustaining serious damage.

Nor were the Town Hall, the Christchurch Casino and the Convention Centre, Hamilton said.

Many heritage buildings have been recommended for demolition.

Heritage experts were consulted before some significant buildings were brought down. Some features could also be recovered from badly damaged heritage buildings, Hamilton said.

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said Christchurch people should brace themselves for big changes.

''It's very clear the face of the city is going to be completely and utterly different,'' he said.

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''To put it simply we're looking at a different city.''

It was ''reasonable to assume'' a number of high-rise buildings would struggle to operate economically because people may not want to go back.

Hamilton said Civil Defence would next week try to provide screenshots or video of buildings across the streets in the central business district.

Owners or tenants would be able to see their buildings, Hamilton said.

Authorities also released details of the ''drop zones'' around damaged high-rise buildings in the central business district.

Engineers believe if the buildings were to collapse, they would fall within the marked zone.

Fears of collapse have frustrated business owners, desperate to gain access to valuable property in the decimated ruins of the central business district.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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