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On hold...Work on the Aigantighe House Gallery is being delayed and the cost of the project is increasing. PHOTO: CHRIS TOBIN

by Chris Tobin

A draft design plan completed in August to earthquake-strengthen and upgrade the Aigantighe Art Gallery has been scrapped, the Timaru District Council services meeting learned on Tuesday.

“Due to the complexities of the project and following further investigations, the gallery will not be progressing with the draft detailed design as proposed,” manager Hamish Pettengell told the committee.

“The gallery believes it is prudent to undertake a new and more specialist approach to the project.”

The council has allocated $600,000 in the 2019-20 financial year to complete the strengthening of the Historic House Gallery and $50,000 to refurbish public bathrooms and provide for an accessible toilet.

Mr Pettengell said with an expected increase in the cost of the project the gallery would seek external funding.

“The funding strategy to achieve the subsidy funding for the project is based on a third central government, a third local government and a third community funding.

“A number of funders have been identified, but a full funding strategy will be developed when the final estimate of costs for the project are known.”

He said the council was planning a workshop early next year with consultants to develop a concept design for the project.

“The implications with this new approach is it will delay the project, and physical works are unlikely to commence in 2020 as scheduled.”

The concept design and an estimation of cost was expected to be completed by the middle of next year.

Factors contributing to the delay were constraints on the availability of specialists and the complexity of conserving heritage features such as stained glass windows, parquet flooring, chimneys and Marseille roof tiles.

Further investigations were being made into upgrading the main building roof.

Mr Pettengell said this part of the project would be treated separately to the strengthening of the Historic House Gallery.

Findings from a geotechnical investigation of the site were positive, he said.