Vacant Hydro Grand labelled 'dangerous', developer urges chance to knock it down
The disused Hydro Grand Hotel in Timaru has been assessed as being a dangerous building likely to cause injury or death.
The work of a senior fire risk management officer has prompted new calls from the building's owner to be allowed to demolish the building as soon as practicable.
A Timaru District Council spokesman on Friday confirmed the council was considering the report as developer Allan Booth urged concrete and speedy action.
Booth's company already has consent to knock it down, but the consent conditions say it must first have the building consents, and the finance and construction contracts, needed for the $42 million redevelopment.
"I'd like to see common sense prevail and for me to be able to act and pull it down as soon as possible and get rid of the risk," Booth said when contacted about the new report.
"At the moment I feel liable; I'm trying to ensure nobody can get in but, at the end of the day, the safest thing is to get rid of it."
Booth was ready and able to act swiftly to demolish the building: "all I need is for the council to come back with a decision based on common sense".
A Fire Service expert surveyed the building on September 14, soon after three small fires were apparently deliberately lit inside the dilapidated hulk.
Soon after the fires, the council said the building had yet to be deemed unsafe. A fire service officer visited the Hydro after the council requested an investigation pursuant to the Building Act.
In his report, senior fire risk management officer Mark Thomas says he believes the Hydro is a dangerous building according to the criteria of the Act.
It is likely to cause injury death, whether by collapse or otherwise, to anyone inside. It is also likely to do the same in the event of a fire, he notes.
The building had been empty for a number of years and, while reasonable measures had been taken to secure it, it had been subject to unlawful entry and occupation, he says.
The ground floor had suffered considerable and sustained water damage over an extended period, making walking there treacherous with falling and collapse hazards throughout.
The stairs were unstable and extreme care was required when ascending or descending to avoid partial collapse, he reports.
The redundant lift shaft had been breached on the first floor, leaving a significant falling hazard.
There was also evidence of unlawful occupation in several rooms. A suitcase and clothing were scattered about, and there was tagging on some walls.
As previously discovered by fire crew, there was also evidence of three separate, deliberately lit and self-extinguished fires in three rooms on the ground floor.
The Hydro had a sprinkler system, but it could not be assumed to offer fire protection to the building, he reports.
On Friday, Booth acknowledged the council needed to carefully consider the "pretty damning" report. But then, "I don't think there should be too much time procrastinating on it".
"No matter what I do to try and stop people getting in there, it is just not safe."
When contacted, the council spokesman declined answer specific questions as to what may happen in light of the report.
A fire service spokesman could not be reached on Friday but the service has already highlighted concerns about crew safety when responding to incidents at the Hydro.
Mid-South Canterbury assistant area manager Steven Greenyer this month said there was no blanket ban on entering the building, but such action would be avoided if possible.
The building has been slated for demolition since resource consent was granted in April. Booth's company has $42 million plans to redevelop the site.