Revamp planned for picturesque street

Last updated 23:03 03/06/2008

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One of the most picturesque streets in Christchurch is set for a $1.4 million revamp.

The distinctive rows of 40 shops on New Regent Street in central Christchurch are to have a facelift, with new paint and structural work to prevent leaks.

The plan, presented to Christchurch City councillors yesterday, would restore the street over five years and is subject to consultation with the owners of the buildings.

New Regent Street was completed in 1931 and was one of few big construction projects in the South Island during the Depression. The distinctive Spanish Mission architectural style is unique on such a scale in New Zealand.

However, the street has become shabby over the past two decades since its last big paint job, and many shops leak.

R.M. Williams clothing and footwear shop manager Robyn Broadbelt said the ceiling had collapsed in the shop unit twice due to water leaks. The ceiling had to be reinforced recently to prevent a third collapse.

Broadbelt was keen to see the street revitalised.

"I think it is a lovely street. We would like to see it all repainted on the outside," she said.

Pronto Cafe manager Fred Sesun said his shop also suffered from leaks.

"My roof is leaking but it is up to me and my landlord. It leaks everywhere," he said.

Bunts Florist owner Gail Beukes said the street was looking "tatty".

"It definitely needs to be repainted. It looks a bit tatty out there. It looks very scruffy. Especially being a very important piece of Christchurch heritage and it has so much history connected to it and the tram going up and down. It is very important we upgrade," she said.

The water problems had also opened cracks in the paint and plasterwork of the main facade.

The project to revitalise the street was outlined yesterday by council heritage conservation projects planner Victoria Bliss.

She said the money would be used to repaint the street based on the original colour scheme from the 1930s. Council staff will today visit the street to uncover the original colours, which are thought to be cream, ochre and a light terracotta.

The $1.4m project would include strengthening the buildings, reinstalling the original decorative tiles that some shops still featured beneath the front windows, and tidying modern additions to the street.

The upgrade would be funded by the council's heritage grants committee.

 

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