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This is a letter that was just sent to a group of people supporting the retention of the Christchurch Town Hall.
Dear Keep Our Town Hall supporters.
We have reached a critical point in the effort to stop the demolition of the Town Hall. The Council is meeting on Thursday to make a decision, and this is likely to be the final one. An extraordinary campaign is being run by The Press in favour of full (or partial) demolition. I have counted around 14 articles as either editorials or opinion pieces in the last month arguing for the demolition. The supporters of the Town Hall have not been able to get a single article to articulate the views in favour of it. We now face the very real possibility of losing the vote on Thursday.
With this in mind I ask that if you want your voice to be heard as part of the campaign, can you please take the opportunity to email the Councilors who are voting on the issue. The email addresses for the 13 councilors and the Mayor are:
You can just copy and past all there addresses into one email. The vote is first thing Thursday morning, so I think the emails need to be sent either today or tomorrow so there is time for the Councillors to read them. (please also bcc us: email@example.com)
Recent articles about the Town Hall can be found here:
Barnaby Bennett: http://info.scoop.co.nz/Barnaby_Bennett
Since we last emailed you in March the key development is that a large rebuild cost-sharing agreement between the local Christchurch City Council and the Government was signed in late June. The result of these negotiations was that the development of Town Hall and Arts Precinct was handed over to the Council to continue (along with the Library and Stadium).
Initially this was greeted with some positivity by those working to protect the Town Hall as the Council has been consistent in it efforts to keep it, most notably in the unanimous decision last November.
The Council staff have been working on options for the full retention for the past 9 months and these were presented to the councilors at a workshop a few weeks ago.
The Council were to vote on this, but the campaign by the Press and some members of the business and arts community have been vociferously calling for a reconsideration of the decision to keep the Town Hall. This is based on the legally questionable idea that the insurance money from the Town Hall can simply be transferred to a new arts precinct. The Press is arguing for the complete demolition of the Town Hall and for all the funding to go towards a new arts centre on the south side of the river, and others are asking for the demolition of all but the auditorium, with the remaining $80 million (or less) to go to the new arts precinct.
Sir Miles Warren, Ian Lochhead and Barnaby Bennett presented to the Council’s Community, Recreation, and Culture committee last week, and the committee recommended the full retention option to the full Council. However the pressure has really turned up this week, so it is likely some Councillors will turn.
Our main points are:
- The Council has already consulted on this and there is widespread community support for the full retention.
- The Council itself has already unanimously voted in favour of full retention.
- It is a heritage one listed building and the Council would be breaking its own guidelines to vote in favour of even partial demolition.
- The money to repair, and upgrade, the building has already been budgeted and approved as part of the Councils Three year plan.
- There is now reasonable cost certainty over the price of the repairs, and the total includes fees and many large contingencies for unforeseen cost increases.
- The building is a civic building and so the idea of demolishing it to make way for an arts precinct is culturally questionable.
- It is an internationally recognized, and gold medal award winning, building of great quality. In the context of a city that has lost 80% of its down town buildings and over half of its heritage listed stock it would be an travesty to add this building to the rubbish heap.
- The cost includes a full upgrade to current fire, structural, and services standards. The acoustic improvement of the James Hay is also included and some previous issues with accessibility.
Even if you have already written to us or the council in support it is important to remind them again. If you have the time please do write a few comments about why you think the Town Hall should not be demolished, this is a critical moment.
Thanks you for your contribution to saving this important and amazing building. We can hopefully come back with good news on friday!
Keep our Town Hall group
Sir Miles Warren
Dr. Ian Lochhead.
Dr. Jessical Hallliday