Majestic Theatre's death warrant signed

ABBIE NAPIER
Last updated 08:22 21/03/2014
majestic theatre protest
Dean Kozanic

MAJESTIC PROTEST: Dozens marched against the threatened demolition of the Majestic Theatre in Manchester St.

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Talks between the Christchurch City Council and the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) have failed to save the heritage-listed Majestic Theatre building.

Demolition will begin within a few weeks.

It was acquired by the Government in December and will be demolished to make way for the widening of Manchester St.

In December last year, Mayor Lianne Dalziel hoped to halt any decision on the building's fate while talks were under way with Cera about ways of saving it.

Hopes of saving it rose after 18 months spent working with the previous owner, Majestic Church. The council found full demolition was not necessary and reports on the process were sent to Cera last year.

Dalziel said at a December meeting Cera promised a full engineering report would be sent to the council to confirm whether it could be saved.

The report had not yet been received.

A Cera spokesman said senior officials from the council were informed of Cera's intentions for the building at a meeting this month, and again in a letter sent after the meeting.

The letter, sent by Warwick Isaacs to council acting chief executive Jane Parfitt on March 13, confirmed his decision to demolish the Majestic.

In the letter, Isaacs said alternative designs for the Manchester St intersection were not acceptable, funding was not available for restoration and other options would not be completed quickly enough for the recovery plan to proceed.

The building was under a Section 45 (dangerous building) notice and a CCDU spokesman said the contract for its demolition had been awarded.

Heritage advocates protested against the building's loss yesterday.

Historic Places Canterbury deputy chairman Ross Gray said the lack of community consultation was "not good enough".

"Certainly, demolition is what the Government wanted from the moment they acquired it," he said.

A Cera spokesman said the council heritage team and New Zealand Historic Places Trust were consulted.

City councillor Yani Johanson, who attended the protest, said both Cera and the council had a duty to protect the city's heritage.

"It's hard to understand why a road takes priority over a significant heritage building," he said.

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