Urgent demolition of 83 buildings ordered

DAVID WILLIAMS
Last updated 05:00 29/06/2011

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Christchurch Earthquake 2011

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More than 80 earthquake-damaged Christchurch buildings are expected to be pulled down over the next two weeks.

Since February's quake, more than 500 buildings have been tagged for demolition.

The June 13 quakes damaged almost 150 buildings in the cordoned central city red zone.

In the latest list provided to The Press, 83 buildings have been approved for full demolition, including 20 listed heritage buildings.

» View CERA's urgent demolition list

Nine buildings have been tagged for partial demolition, with five to be made safe.

"We would expect all buildings on the urgent list to be demolished, have partial demolition or make-safe work within the next two weeks," Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) demolition manager Warwick Isaacs said.

The worst-hit areas are in Colombo St, with 13 full demolitions, including four heritage buildings; Lichfield St, with 10 full demolitions; and Manchester St, with eight.

Seven buildings in the City Mall's western section are earmarked for urgent demolition, as Cera aims to have businesses back in the area by Cup and Show Week.

In High St, a row of shops occupied by Cosmic Corner, Emporium and Cheapskates will come down, as well as three other buildings.

Heritage buildings on the urgent demolition list include the former civic offices on Manchester St, the Lancaster Hotel and the A&T Burt buildings on Ferry Rd, and Lyttelton's Canterbury Hotel.

Historic Places Trust emergency response manager Nicola Jackson said the urgent list did not contain many surprises because those buildings were already badly damaged.

She said it was too early to tell if the city would retain enough character buildings to maintain its heritage feel, or if there were pockets of older buildings to allow historic precincts to be developed.

Jackson said the trust had contracted an engineer to peer-review information from the city's authorities, to ensure it "stacks up".

"That just provides that safety net, if you like, to ensure that what can be repaired is at least given a second look," she said.

A $4 million Canterbury Earthquake Heritage Building Fund has been created for the repair, restoration and strengthening of damaged character and heritage buildings.

Cera's urgent list also showed the 13-floor Holiday Inn hotel in Cashel St needed "make-safe" work.

InterContinental Hotels Group South Island area manager Blair Roxborough said there were a couple of loose roof panels that were expected to be dealt with quickly. "It's nothing major."

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Roxborough said there had been limited access to the 149-room hotel because it was in the shadow of the listing Hotel Grand Chancellor.

As a consequence, the Holiday Inn would not be taking bookings until 2013.

"The demolition order on [the] Hotel Grand Chancellor is going to slow us right down," he said. "We've got to get our own detailed engineering assessments ... and that will give us a bit of a lens on what we need to do in terms of the building."

In total, 900 inner-city buildings are expected to be demolished, and 300 suburban commercial buildings.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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