CBD demolition set to start

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    The city block ear-marked for a $160m retail precinct in Invercargill's CBD. Photo: Petrina Wright

    DEMOLITION of the Invercargill city block could begin as early as tomorrow after an injunction to stop the works was dismissed in the Christchurch High Court this week.

    HWCP Management director Scott O’Donnell was thrilled when, on Tuesday, Justice David Gendall made the decision to revoke an injunction which had stopped the demolition of the Invercargill CBD block marked for redevelopment.

    After the decision was delivered, Mr O’Donnell rang his project manager to see how fast he could get the demolition under way.

    “I’m hoping we can start on Thursday or Friday,he said after the hearing.”

    Nelson-based Gaire Thompson, who owns several commercial properties in Invercargill, had sought the injunction to halt demolition until a substantiative hearing could be held to determine whether or not the Invercargill City Council (ICC) should have publicly notified amendments to HWCP Management’s resource consent relating to funding the project.

    An interim injunction was put in place on December 31 after Mr Thompson filed his appeal on December 24. This meant the demolition, due to start on January 6, was put on hold until the hearing could be held on Tuesday.

    Mr Thompson was disappointed with Justice Gendall’s decision.

    “It still probably won’t make any difference to the concerns that we have regarding whether the development will be able to be completed and not leave a vacant blob of a site in the heart of Invercargill.”

    During the hearing, Mr Thompson’s counsel Sally Gebb said the motivation behind the injunction was her client’s concern over the non-notification as well as risk of the project not being completed due to financial concerns. He was also concerned about the loss of heritage to the city, she said.

    “There is no question that they can’t get started on it.” For Mr Thompson the question is can they finish it.”

    During the hearing, HWCP Management counsel Jared Ormsby said HWCP Management was an innocent party in the process, as the company was not responsible for the public notification.

    However, the delays were having a considerable impact on the development to the extent it was putting the whole project at risk.

    Now asbestos had been removed from the buildings in preparation for the demolition, they were now highly unusable and unsafe, Mr Ormsby said.

    “The buildings must now be considered derelict.”

    Police, together with HWCP, had concerns with squatters, vandals and trespassers who were accessing the site, he said.

    In his response judgement, Justice Gendall said he had ered the considerable material that has been filed and the detailed submissions”.

    He reserved his decision on costs.

    Portions of the hearing were suppressed because of commercial sensitivity.

    Mr Thompson was still to decide whether he would apply to the courts to hold a substantiative hearing regarding the public notification matter.

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