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Historic Manchester Courts to go

Published: 7:43PM Saturday October 16, 2010 Source: ONE News

Heritage groups' last efforts to save one of Christchurch's damaged historic buildings proved fruitless as preparations for its demolition began.
Christchurch's historic Manchester Courts was condemned after the Canterbury earthquake hit on September 4.

The demolition is expected to begin early next week after urgent talks with the city council has bought the start date forward.

The work is expected to take between six and eight weeks, but after about four weeks it is hoped the site will be safe enough for one lane of Manchester Street to open.

The demolition company in charge have begun work to prepare the site, building up soil eight metres high in order for diggers to work on top of. The soil will soak up the vibrations from heavy machinery and give the machinery access to the higher floors.

Owner of Manchester Court, Richard Peebles' life had revolved around restoring the old building. He said the 104-year-old beauty was his pride and joy.
But following the warning from engineers that the building was dangerous, Peebles said the building will be opened up and destroyed "like a dolls house", before it collapses.

Protester Ross Gray said they want to bring the demolition to a halt to ensure a more careful investigation and more tests can be done.
"We don't believe at all that this is nearly as unstable and shaky as is being made out", Gray said.

After demolition is complete Peebles plans to build a three-storey glass building on the site.

Peebles hopes to mix old with new by salvaging materials from the historic building and incorporate them into the new building.

Peebles hopes to have the building finished in time for the one year anniversary of the Canterbury earthquake.