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Bid to halt Manchester Courts demolition

BY SHAHRA WALSH
Last updated 15:20 14/10/2010
courts
Barbed wire now surrounds the condemned Manchester Courts building on Manchester St.

Richard Peebles co-owner, Manchester Courts

Christchurch earthquake damage from the air
DAVID HALLETT/The Press
The Manchester Courts building on the corner of Manchester and hereford streets.
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courts
A drawing of how the Manchester Courts building could look restored, provided by Donnithorne Architects.

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The owner of Manchester Courts is proceeding with the demolition of his building in spite of protests from concerned heritage groups. 

A group of residents is campaigning to stop the demolition of Manchester Courts, pending further investigation by engineers.

But the building owner warns it could collapse at any time.

Richard Peebles was in urgent  talks with city council engineers this afternoon to fast-track its demolition.

An emotional Peebles told The Press this afternoon that yesterday's aftershocks had further damaged the structure and advice from Auckland University's department of civil and environmental engineering warned the seven-storey building was showing significant signs of "impending failure.''

The Christchurch City Council last week agreed to issue a demolition warrant for the 104-year-old building and the fi al terms of that agreemet were being finalised today but Peebles said the council needed to be told about the latest damage immediately because of the risk of it collapsing without warning.

The council met with Peebles this afternoon, but decided against withdrawing the building's demolition warrant. 

Peebles said the demolition would proceed. 

A group of heritage enthusiasts and others have launched a campaign to try and stop the building from being demolished.

The Christchurch Civic Trust has advertised in today's Press urging concerned Cantabrians to write to Mayor Bob Parker and the Christchurch City Council to "demand a stop to the demolition of Manchester Courts".

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The council voted 10 to 2 in favour of the demolition of the quake-damaged building, on the corner of Manchester St and Hereford St.

Manchester Courts has stood at the site since 1906 and was formerly the NZ Express Co building.

The group says the council failed to obtain an independent engineer's report to verify the findings of a report commissioned by the building's owner.

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The group believes a second comprehensive report would find that the structure was sufficiently reinforced with steel when it was built and could be saved.

- The Press

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