Heritage group makes building plea

SHARE
The grand entrance to the county building in baring Square East.

Historic Places Mid Canterbury has made a plea to the Ashburton council to develop something wonderful for its new civic centre and library, possibly incorporating the existing county council building.
Julie Luxton and Nigel Gilkison spoke to the council on behalf of Historic Places, and presented a board on which members of the public had attached stars as being buildings which deserved a blue plaque, as set up near the historic rail overbridge.
The small brick office in which Historic Places Mid Canterbury meets, Pioneer Hall in Havelock
Street, will gets its blue plaque soon.
Mrs Luxton said: “If you stand back on the other side of Baring Square East and look over the square, it is framed by two historic buildings at the moment. One one end is the upright, rather graceful, historic brick church and the other is this (the county) building.
“So my question is, if you do choose to replace this building, what are you going to design or construct, that is as admirable and gracious to view.
“Behind this building (the county building) is another very significant, small, historic building that deserves to be retained and brought up the earthquake code…we would dearly love to see this wee building, our headquarters, strengthened and become a community asset that any community group can use, not just Historic Places Mid Canterbury.”
Mrs Luxton said that several years ago she appeared on the front page of a paper when there were plans (now scrapped) to demolish the Methodist church.
“If it was published my phone was just red hot with people saying, `how can they pull that
church down’?”
She said the message was that people do care about historic buildings in this town, like the
church and the former county council building.
Mrs Luxton said that, maybe, the county building could be adapted.
Imagine the outcry, she said, if two heritage buildings were to be
demolished to make way “for your civic centre”.
Mr Gilkison said that even though the county building was not listed, it was valued.
He said the brief for the architects did not specifically say any of the buildings be retained.
Heritage buildings, he said, could be adapted quite simply, “particularly if you are doing a new-build around them, which allows you to pin the structure together to allow for the earthquake strengthening and what you don’t have to recreate is entirely new floor
plates …which is a perfectly good building if it were strengthened …the only issue particularly with this is the earthquake strengthening, and if that can be done as part of the surrounding structure, then that almost kills two birds with one stone,” Mr Gilkison said.