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Had to see it . . . St John members were allowed a look (from left) South Canterbury territory manager Darryn Grigsby, Connor Inkster-Robinson, Lynne Frost, Timaru station manager Debbi-Kaye Gardiner, Ryan Murray, Sandy Burleigh, Debb Reid, Timaru area executive officer Sally Jarvie, Gordon Hardy, John Wilson and Teressa May. PHOTO: GEORGE CLARK

by George Clark

The construction of St John’s new Timaru headquarters in Wai-Iti Rd has been very much a local affair.

The building with a ‘modern Victorian feel” will take 35,000 hours of work to fully complete.

Precast panels were made in Washdyke and erected on-site in 12 days.

Project liaison Gordon Handy said the exterior was assembled within two and a-half weeks.

“Now is a perfect time to be “building,” he said.

“One dollar invested in the construction sector currently generates around $2.80 of total economy activity.”

Erected in 12 days . . . St John project manager Gordon Handy (right) and Thompson Construction project facilitator John Wilson inside the ambulance bay. PHOTO: GEORGE CLARK

Thompson Construction project facilitator John Wilson said demolition of the Seven Oaks Reception Centre to make way for the St John headquarters on the site began on May 11.

Covid-19 had initially set the construction project back but it was now two weeks ahead of schedule, he said.

But Mr Wilson could not give a guaranteed completion date.

He thought people undervalued the local sector’s capabilities.

“It is about team Timaru – Timaru subcontractors, suppliers, builders. It is about our community building something ourselves and doing it well,” he said.

“We tend to look externally when we have it all here.”

The construction sector employs 10% of New Zealanders and represents 8% of the GDP.

Mr Wilson said the building represented not only a new infrastructural home for St John but growth and opportunity for local workers and families.

“We wanted to retain the legacy of the Seven Oaks site,” he said.

“The fact that building has been designed to have a 50- to 80-year life cycle will reflect the spirit of the community.”

Working towards the concept . . . The ambulance bay artist impression. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

As an importance level four building, it is classed in the same standard as hospitals and police stations.

It is the highest category of structure building you can get.

A total of 31 tonnes of steel has been used, the equivalent weight of six fully grown African elephants.

The high-speed door system will roll up 1.5m per second, allowing immediate access and egress for ambulances.