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End is nigh . . .The landmark Hydro Grand Hotel's days are numbered, with permission being granted to demolish the building to address safety concerns. PHOTO: ALEXIA JOHNSTON

by Claire Allison

Danger cited as reason

Approval has been given to demolish Timaru’s Hydro Grand Hotel.

The initial resource consent to demolish the building was conditional on demolition not taking place until a building consent was issued for the proposed redevelopment of the site and the finance and construction contracts were in place.

However, the Timaru District Council issued a Dangerous Building Notice on September 29, which identifies the building as being likely to cause injury or death in the event of a fire or earthquake.

That meant building owner Bayhill Developments was required to reduce or remove the danger posed by the building by December 2 this year.

The company determined the most efficient manner to do this was to demolish the building, and in order to do that, changes would be required to the existing resource consent.

It also sought changes to other conditions in the original consent, including that a photographic record of the building be made before demolition and that representative items of high heritage value – including two coloured/stained glass windows from the stairwell, the bottom timber newel post from the main stair, and at least one concertina steel lift door and frame – be removed, restored, and built into a public aspect of the new development.

Independent commissioner Alan Cubitt noted that the reason for the condition restricting demolition until a building consent and construction contracts were confirmed for the replacement buildings was to avoid a situation where the building was demolished and the site remained vacant for an indefinite period, in the event the project did not proceed.

“That was predicated on the basis that the Hydro Grand was sound and could remain safely on the site until it was time to demolish it,” he said.

“However, further degradation of the building since the original decision .. means it is not possible to retain the building on the site in its current state.”

Mr Cubitt said if the site was to remain vacant for some time, there were opportunities for temporary solutions, such as the Gap Filler type initiatives, to encourage community use of the site.

“I consider that the costs and uncertainties of either repairing the building or sealing it completely are unreasonable given that the building is to be ultimately demolished.”

Conditions relating to a photographic record and retrieval of items from the building were also amended to take into account safety concerns.