Cr calls for demolition of old Club Hotel

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Bluff Oyster and Food Festival committee member Kylie Fowler and Invercargill City Councillour Peter Kett on the stairs of Club Hotel. PHOTO: LUISA GIRAO

AN “old but new” Invercargill city councillor is supporting the Bluff Oyster and Food Festival Trust in its bid to demolish the Club Hotel.

The trust applied for resource consent to demolish four buildings in Gore St which make up the hotel, a category 2 heritage building on Heritage New Zealand’s list. The request was declined by the Invercargill City Council, which also lists it in its district plan as having heritage value.

Cr Peter Kett, who was re-elected after being away from the council table for one term, visited the site yesterday.

After seeing inside the building, he concluded the only way forward was to pull it down.

Interior walls were full of holes, damaged and mouldy; windows had been smashed and glass lay everywhere; pipes and woodwork had been damaged or stolen; grass was growing on carpet and furniture; and fittings and furniture had been wrecked.

“There is only one satisfactory ending to this and it is having it demolished. It is not fit for use,” Cr Kett said.

He would schedule a meeting between the trust and the city council to see what could be done.

Bluff Oyster and Food Festival Trust member Kylie Fowler said the trust bought the building in 2014 and had tried “everything possible” to sell it.

“The trust can’t afford to maintain it, nor have we a reason to use it. We advertised it and we did not have anyone interested in purchasing it. So what else do you do?”

Since the beginning of the resource consent process, the trust had spent $80,000 on reports and documentation.

“That is almost the profit of our festival.”

They were also struggling with vandals at the site.

“We lock everything but vandals come here and steal things. That is another problem. Imagine if a kid came here and something happened. We are liable, so we do our best, but we need to remind people we are just volunteers.”

If the trust received permission to demolish the building, the festival, which takes place on a site behind the building, could have more space to grow, she said.

Mr Kett agreed.

“The Oyster Festival is one of our iconic events and we need to extend the site for more people to come in. It [the Club Hotel] is an eyesore and is dangerous for festival-goers.”

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