Cera says demolition to resume

JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 05:00 15/10/2012

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Christchurch Earthquake 2011

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Demolition is scheduled to continue on Christchurch's historic Cranmer Courts today after a bid by city councillors to get a one-month halt to the work failed.

Acting Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) chief executive Warwick Isaacs sent a letter to councillors on Friday stating Cera was "not prepared to further delay the demolition of this dangerous building".

The letter, obtained by The Press, responded to a request from council on Thursday for a one-month moratorium on the demolition.

Cr Helen Broughton lodged a notice of motion for council to ask Cera for the moratorium, which passed in a 5-4 vote.

In the letter, Isaacs acknowledged the council's position but said demolition had not "been undertaken with haste".

"Cera has been working with the owners since April 2011 to help them to find affordable repair solutions. Cera has twice agreed to delay work on the buildings in order to afford the owners time to engage with potential purchasers.

"The body corporate, on behalf of the owners, has exhausted its own resources to fund the repair or retention of part or all of the building.

"Cera is not prepared to further delay the demolition of this dangerous building in the absence of a commitment from council or other interests to fund the exploration of options to save the facade or source an alternative purchaser."

Isaacs' letter was sent to acting council chief executive Peter Mitchell on Friday and forwarded to the mayor and councillors.

Broughton was yesterday disappointed by the response.

She said the organisations could have explored a cost-sharing arrangement while demolition stopped.

Broughton said the council and Cera could share the cost, or split it three ways with the body corporate.

"If demolition hadn't started, talks could have happened," Broughton said.

"We could have had a round-the-table meeting with the owners, councillors, Cera and the Historic Places Trust to see if there was anything that could be done.

"It was only a month pause. That would have given the city time."

Mayor Bob Parker, who voted against the notice of motion, said it was too late to save the building.

"That building has been sitting there a long time. Really at the 11th hour and the 59th minute, asking council to issue a notice of motion . . . simply could not work. It was found really to be nothing more than words."

Demolition resumed on October 4 after an offer from overseas to purchase and restore the historic facade fell through on September 28.

Rod McKay, a resident in one of the Cranmer Courts town houses, says he was "all in favour" of the stay of execution but it was "a bit late now".

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"We have to accept there will have to be something nice and new there," he said.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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