Ownership issue leaves Odeon roof costing ratepayers

MARTIN VAN BEYNEN
Last updated 05:00 09/08/2014
Odeon Theatre roof
JOSEPH JOHNSON/FAIRFAX NZ

SAFETY AREA: The remains of the Odeon Theatre have been blocking the rebuild around Manchester St in central Christchurch.

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It is the roof that time forgot. Or so it appears anyway.

The roof of the former Odeon Theatre was removed by the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) for safety reasons about two years ago and ended up on the footpath on Manchester St, between Tuam and St Asaph streets.

It has not moved since and a 40-metre barrier is required on Manchester St to separate pedestrians walking around the huge structure from traffic.

The barrier is costing ratepayers $184 a week and has already cost ratepayers about $10,000.

Nick Hopper, whose shop Caravan, Camping and Marine, borders the roof, said it was an eyesore, an inconvenience for motorists and an obstruction on a part of Manchester St which was steadily improving. It was less than encouraging for potential customers.

Cera said the roof was the responsibility of Odeon Property Holdings, a company directed by Ian Bruce Hyndman and owned through other companies by Christchurch bankrupt David Ian Henderson.

Henderson told The Press that Odeon Property had the right to all demolition materials from the former Odeon Theatre, which he was pushing hard to save.

"You will be disappointed to learn I am not the villain here. I would have thought saving the theatre may have been of more significance to The Press than some cones on the street."

In subsequent emails, he said: "We are comfortable if the roof needs to be moved so long as it isn't damaged. I have no idea what Odeon would do if such a request was made. We would visit it at the time, I guess."

The Christchurch City Council, which is responsible for public footpaths, said it was working to find out who owned the roof and would then seek its removal.

Road assets manager Malcolm Park said the council had been unaware, until this week, that Cera did not own the roof.

Christchurch Central Development Unit director Warwick Isaacs said Cera had purchased the Odeon Theatre property last year by agreement for $1.75 million.

"In the agreement, the Crown agreed to consider any request by the vendor to salvage any significant heritage items from the property and any salvage would be at the vendor's sole cost.

However, the agreement only took into account improvements currently on the property and as the roof was not on the property, it was not included in the sale and purchase agreement."

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