Fate of Euphrasie House now in church's hands

AARON LEAMAN
Last updated 05:00 27/07/2013
Euphrasie House
PETER DRURY/ Fairfax NZ

LANDMARK: The Hamilton East Community Trust says it will go to the Environment Court if necessary to save Euphrasie House from demolition.

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Heritage advocates face a tense wait for a few days to learn if their rescue plan for Hamilton's historic Euphrasie House has been accepted.

Hamilton East Community Trust is fighting to keep the pre-World War II Spanish mission style convent standing, despite its owners, the Catholic Diocese, winning consent to demolish the Hamilton East landmark.

The trust presented an alternative proposal for restoring the building to church representatives yesterday, but will have to wait until Wednesday to learn its fate.

"I think we've done a very good job with a very good team of experts, who are the top of their field," trust chairperson Lois Livingston said. However, she said, if agreement could not be reached, the trust would continue with its appeal to the Environment Court.

The Catholic Diocese has said it can't afford the $5 million earthquake upgrade the building needs and instead wants to build a two-storey diocesan centre on the site.

But costings for strengthening, extension and refurbishment presented by the trust put the likely cost at $4.1m.

Ms Livingston said the proposal would give the church "food for thought".

"Essentially we're saying this is an iconic building, let's save it for the future, and here's a plan that includes everything the Catholic Church says it wants in a building," Ms Livingston said.

The trust has been assisted by a wider group of professionals who were working pro bono.

"When we met with the Catholic Church a few weeks ago they initially couldn't see how we could come up with anything at that stage, but by the end of the meeting they were very keen to see what we could present to them."

The church will give its response to the trust's proposal at a meeting on Wednesday.

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- Waikato Times

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