I notice that Labour stated: “It’s time to remove the “extreme wartime powers” that allow the demolition of Christchurch Cathedral and other heritage buildings without public consultation. “Labour’s arts, culture and heritage spokeswoman Jacinda Ardern said a Labour government would remove Section 38 of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act.” Link here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/10228149/Labour-stirs-Christchurch-heritage-debate
This was about 2 days before the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority issued a Section 38 demolition order on this building. (Make safe/demolish) The demolition of the Memorial Hall in Moorhouse Avenue is to make way for a new Engineering and Architectural Studies building. The Memorial Hall building was dedicated to 71 former Christchurch Technical College students who died in World War 1.
“It is a disgrace that the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (CPIT) authorities would consider the desecration of the sacred status of its war memorial in the name of progress,” the deputy chairman of Historic Places Canterbury, Ross Gray, said.
“The hall suffered earthquake damage and has not been occupied since September 2011, the CPIT said.”
Yes, true, every brick building in the city has suffered damage. I will also point out that the Poly Technic had already made safe this building by doing some urgent repairs some time ago. I distinctly remember that the building was scaffolded and the walls were repaired and re-mortared. (You will notice from the fencing surrounding the building that it is not in the “this is really dangerous” basket. It is on Moorhouse Ave, it has 3 lanes of traffic and pedestrians walking past it every day.)
Now, I have no beef with the Poly Technic building a new “Engineering and Architectural Studies building”. (Although the University already has a perfectly adequate Engineering Department and being only a simple person I fail to understand the duplication of courses.) And I am sure the Memorial garden will be a nice and fitting Memorial to those poor young men and woman who died in World War 1.
What I do have a beef with, is the continued misuse of the section 38’s. This building was 25% of the New Building Standard. That is not far off 33%, it would have taken minimal strengthening work to reach the 33% required to make it legal to occupy.
The truth of the matter is that this building has stood up well to 14,000 earthquakes but was an inconvenience to the polytechnic, who have a massive rebuilding programme under way and have a better use of the land than as an old hall. Fair enough. But stop hiding the truth under the guise of a Section 38. Use the normal procedures and notifications. There have been far too many buildings in the city pulled down under the guise of Section 38’s. “Labour” is correct, this must stop. (Although the horse has well and truly bolted on this issue in Christchurch!)
Incidentally this section 38 was immediately acted upon and the building was demolished the next Evening. They worked throughout the night and the digger quickly pulled the building in on itself and the deed was done. Rather indecent haste I thought.
Ho humm, another Christchurch Heritage disgrace. SNAFU.