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Meeting To Consider Replacing Municipal Office Building

Next Thursday (10 December 2020) Wellington City Council’s Strategy and Policy Committee will consider the future of the Municipal Office Building (MOB) in Te Ngākau Civic Square. This is the planned home for a new National Music Centre (NMC).

“The National Music Centre is an exciting partnership between the Council, Victoria University of Wellington and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. It will hugely strengthen our reputation as the Creative Capital and bring more life to the heart of our city - Te Ngākau Civic Square,” says Mayor Andy Foster.

“The design work to strengthen and upgrade the building has been completed and the cost at $84 million means that it is uneconomic to strengthen the building without ongoing ratepayer funding. Because of the age and structure of the building the strengthening work would not deliver a highly resilient building which also may not be usable after an earthquake.

“Next week Councillors will be making some difficult decisions about the building’s future. Council officers’ preferred option has changed from strengthening it to demolishing it and building a new one. Under the planning rules the MOB is considered a significant building within the precinct. This would require a resource consent to demolish it and build a new structure. The planning laws set a high bar for demolitions to be approved, which may cause lengthy and costly delays.

“If adopted, $750,000 would be budgeted for in the 2021-2031 Long-term Plan for the consenting process for demolition. This would then be taken to the public for consultation.

“We also recently settled the adjacent Civic Administration Building (CAB) insurance claim. CAB was significantly damaged in the Kaikoura earthquake. If both buildings were able to be demolished it would provide more scope as a community to reimagine Te Ngākau Civic Precinct.

“We need to consider the principles we want for the precinct’s future. As a starter it must be resilient. Buildings should be accessible and encourage activity in and around them. There may be opportunities to look at rooftop places and accommodate a variety of activities that attract a broad range of people to the precinct. It needs to be adaptable, beautiful, a place for events, music, entertainment, protests, celebrations, a place to enjoy and be proud of – a place for everyone, a place for life!”

“Wellingtonians want the heart of our city alive and beating again, and I know Councillors share my strong desire to make decisions quickly and get on with the job.

“While we make these decisions on MOB, CAB and the wider Te Ngākau civic precinct, the Town Hall seismic strengthening work is in full swing. It is a complex job, 462 piles are being drilled deep into the ground, new reinforced concrete floors being poured, 126 base isolators are being installed, and that’s just below or at ground level. We can all look forward to it reopening.”

Design work is also progressing for strengthening and modernising our much-loved Central Library.

You can read the paper in the agenda on the Council website: Strategy & Policy Committee - 10 December 2020, 9.30AM - Meetings - Wellington City Council

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