Christchurch Earthquake 2011
The historic Cranmer Courts building had to be demolished because there was no plan to save it, earthquake recovery boss Roger Sutton says.
A high-reach excavator began demolition yesterday despite cries from a small group of protesters.
One man, Cliff Mason, 59, was arrested for trespassing after allegedly breaching a fence entering the site where demolition workers were deconstructing the building. Demolition halted briefly while he was removed.
Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) chief executive officer Roger Sutton said he was "very sad" to see demolition begin on the structure.
"I understand why people get so emotional. It's a very beautiful building. But the owners have tried everything to save or sell their building and that hasn't worked out."
Sutton said there was no specific plan put forward, or money offered to the owners, to save the building.
"The owners are victims of this large earthquake too, they need to be able to sell the buildings or the piece of land to get their own money back so they too can move on with their lives. That's been very, very hard on the owners, but they want to be able to move on and find new homes too.
"There is no law I am aware of that means Cera or the Government can force a private property owner to fix their property if they choose not to," Sutton said.
Cera issued the Cranmer Courts body corporate a section 38 dangerous-building notice on April 19.
Demolition started in June but was stopped while discussions to save it were held.
An Australian had offered to buy the site and restore the facade, and all 31 unit owners had agreed. The sale was conditional on the buyer doing due diligence, involving a series of engineering and insurance assessments.
Last Friday, the body corporate received news the offer had been withdrawn.
On Tuesday night attendees at a heritage meeting voted unanimously for Christchurch City councillors to seek an extraordinary meeting to delay the work. But the effort was to no avail as the demolition contract was signed on Wednesday.
Upon being released, Mason returned to Cranmer Courts and rejoined the protesters.
Iconic Heritage Group member Janette Kear said she was "horrified" to learn of the historic building's fate.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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