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Council Votes To Keep Town Hall

Council Votes To Keep Town Hall

22 November 2012

Christchurch City Council today voted unanimously to retain and repair the entire Town Hall complex to 100 per cent of New Building Standards (NBS).

The Council, after seeking input from Sir Miles Warren and Maurice Mahoney who were present at the meeting, also agreed that there may be opportunities to redesign an improved southern entry to the Town Hall, from the Avon River Park. This could mean changes to Boaters and the Limes and Cambridge rooms and would be considered as part of ongoing planning before the Council makes a final decision.

As part of this year’s Annual Plan process, which considered the future of the Christchurch Town Hall and other major community facilities, the Council asked staff to prepare a report which would evaluate the merits of retaining the Town Hall main auditorium only and developing a new entrance and gathering space, provided the overall acoustic quality and sense of place associated with the Town Hall could be retained. That report was presented to the Community, Recreation and Culture Committee last month and considered by the Council today.

Mayor Bob Parker says there was an overwhelming call from the community to keep the entire complex.

“Retaining the Town Hall was a key part of the draft plan this Council prepared for the rebuild of our Central City, based on the community’s input to the Share an Idea campaign. This vote will inevitably create some challenges for us and for the Christchurch Central Development Unit around location of performing arts facilities in the Central City, but this building is too important for us to lose.

“Christchurch’s Town Hall has been cherished by Cantabrians of all ages and we all have fond memories of special occasions and events held there. We have been lucky today to hear directly from Sir Miles Warren, Maurice Mahoney and Sir Harold Marshall on the importance of keeping the facility in its entirety. This is a good decision for the city.”

As part of the Annual Plan 2012/13 process the Council budgeted $127.5 million to repair the Town Hall to 100 per cent of New Building Standards based on estimated costs. Insurance cover for the complex is estimated at $68.9 million, however discussions with insurers are ongoing and have not yet been finalised. The Council has already budgeted to borrow the residual $58.6 million. This debt will be serviced through the one-off increase of 1.84% for major community facilities included in the 2012/13 Annual Plan.

Council’s General Manager Corporate Services Paul Anderson says the estimated cost of repair is greater than estimated insurance cover because the Council is planning to do a lot more work on the building to bring it up to 100 per cent of new building code.

“For example, significant work will be required to repair and strengthen the Town Hall's foundations due to the extent of land damage in the vicinity.

“Unlike your usual household insurance, which can be based on open-ended replacement value, our facilities are covered to a set value based on repairing to building regulations of the day - which right now is 33 per cent of new building code. The Council has said this is not good enough for the city's major community facilities where children, families, residents and visitors live, work and play. They have seen the damage that earthquakes can cause and want to build strong, reliable facilities for the community. This does come at an extra cost. The Council's insurance policy was based on the technical advice of professional valuers before the earthquakes; the repairs we are considering as part of the earthquake rebuild deliver a lot more than what's covered by insurance,” Mr Anderson says.

The full report considered at today’s meeting can be viewed online by clicking here.

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