Caretakers of Methven’s historic library and museum have been given the green light for demolishing the two buildings.
Commissioner Patricia Harte has ruled that the Ashburton District Council can issue resource consent for demolition to the Methven Public Library and the Methven Historical Society committees, after a hearing last month.
The two buildings have been the subject of an emotive battle between the two committees and the New Zealand Historic Places Trust. They are both listed as category two buildings with the trust, and the trust has been fighting with the respective committees for their survival.
The library and museum committees see the earthquake-damaged buildings as a liability in a post-quake environment, with tougher strengthening regulations and strict insurance criteria.
They applied for demolition after the buildings were shut down in the earthquakes and the library was damaged further by a drunk driver smashing into it in December last year.
The trust opposed the applications and put its case before Commissioner Hart in a hearing at the Methven Heritage Centre on October 29.
NZHPT area manager Owen Graham would not comment yesterday, saying the trust had not yet seen the decision.
Methven library committee chairperson Eleanor Marr said she was “absolutely thrilled” at the decision, and that common sense had prevailed.
“We are just greatly relieved, and now we can actually go forward,” she said.
The library committee would be meeting with the historical society committee to see where to from here. The committees are planning to build a new joint building on the library site.
The library will have to apply to the NZHPT for an archaelogical authority prior to demolition as the building was constructed prior to 1900.
Mrs Marr said creating a replica of the library’s façade had been an option in a rebuild project, it was unknown at this stage if that would be the plan that was pursued.
Methven Historical Society chairperson Kathryn McKendry said the committee was “delighted” with the commissioner’s decision.
“We feel now we can go ahead and plan for the future,” she said.
In her decision, Commissioner Harte said the effects of retention outweighed costs to the community.
“The Methven Historical Society and public library are voluntary groups with no regular source of income, which means that they would not be able to afford the cost of strengthening or sustain rising insurance costs that came with it,” she said.
By Susan Sandys
Commissioner Harte’s full decisions can be downloaded in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format as follows: