Grain store ruling under appeal

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Redmond Retail is appealing a decision by the Environment Court that prevents demolition of the old Peter Cates’ grain store on West Street.

Redmonds had applied for the building to be removed from the Ashburton District Council’s heritage list, so it could then be demolished. The application was opposed by Heritage NZ and other supporters of the historic building, and the court ruled it should stay on the list.

The appeal will now be heard by the High Court in Christchurch, with a first call on August 10.

Redmonds bought the building in 2015 but it is earthquake prone and they say the cost of bringing it up to code is about $2.6 million.

The oldest part of the building was constructed in September 1878 while the ground floor was converted to office space in 1965.

Historic Places Mid Canterbury chairperson Julie Luxton said buildings did not have to be grand or beautiful to be worthy of heritage retention.

She said people should ask what important stories they told or how they were constructed.

“Today, no other building in our town speaks more about the grain industry our county was built on than Cates’ grain store. And the 1880s laminated beams and use of timber in the building’s interior are some of the last remaining examples of this type of construction.

“Unique and interesting places like this tell a story.”

Mrs Luxton said people should think of the shot tower arcade in Melbourne and The Tannery mall in Christchurch. Christchurch’s new Riverside markets also attracted people by replicating “the old feel” of timber post and beam.

In Mid Canterbury, there were several comfortable, charming and older character places, like The Dubliner in Methven, the Brown Pub or the Blue Pub, Speights Ale House and the Staveley Store, she said.

“Once a heritage building is demolished, no-one can come along and use it for another purpose. it takes courage and no small amount of money to repurpose a heritage building, but there are many examples in our country, and even more overseas.

“Historic Places Mid Canterbury hopes that one day this will happen to Cates’ grain store.”