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Sadness as demolition ordered for Chch icon

Published: 11:57AM Wednesday October 06, 2010 Source: ONE News/Newstalk ZB

The building once known as the tallest in Christchurch is to be demolished because of extensive damage it sustained in the 7.1 magnitude earthquake on September 4.

A special city council meeting this morning agreed to the demolition of the 104-year-old Manchester Courts building.
The city council spent two hours this morning debating whether or not to approve the demolition.
The city's chief executive told councillors the building was in a dangerous state, and a structural engineer's report said it was little more than a pile of bricks, held up by its own weight. 

"The building's amazingly beautiful. We didn't want it to come down. But there was no other option," said Manchester Courts owner Richard Peebles.

The council acted on advice from its staff that the category one heritage-listed building posed an immediate danger and it needed to be demolished.

The council's decision was also based on the surrounding businesses' need to trade.

Heritage advocates however say the decision is short-sighted.

"If we don't have tangible reminders of our past, it doesn't give us much for a future," said Anna Crighton of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.

"The business owners around are going to be disadvantaged whether you shore up the building and stabilise it or whether you demolish it," she said.

Another well known, but extensively damaged shop in Sydenham is also to be knocked down, but four other heritage buildings in the city are to be saved.

Demolition work is set to begin next week and is expected to take two months.