Letter To The Press From Dr. Ian Lochhead Re: Preparation Of Demolition Plans For The Former Civic Offices

Dr. Ian Lochead has generously supplied the text of his letter that was published in The Press. (3rd October 2013)


The report in The Press (1 October) that demolition plans are being prepared for the heritage listed former Christchurch Civic Offices in Tuam Steet further highlights the flawed process being followed with regard to the future of heritage buildings in our city.  This building, designed by George Hart as Millers’ Department Store and completed in 1939, was a pioneering example of international modernism not just in Christchurch but also in the whole of New Zealand.  It was, at the end of the bleak 1930s, a symbol of the bright future that Modernism promised.  There is no good reason why this building cannot be retained and put to an effective alternative use, apart from the fact that its site is required, under the CCDU Blueprint, for a bus exchange.  In the absence of the Heritage Recovery Plan promised in the CERA Draft Recovery Plan, but now downgraded to a Heritage Recovery programme, there is no set of guiding principles by which the future of this building can be decided.  We can only conclude that it will be demolition as usual. Minister Finlayson recently stated that the Heritage Recovery Programme would be released in September 2013.  September has come and gone and we are still waiting.  How does he account for this further delay?

Yours etc.

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