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A discussion on the future of Dunedin's historic courthouse has begun between the Minister of Justice and the Dunedin City Council.
Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said he had spoken to Amy Adams' office today and was hoping to speak to her directly before he left for China this evening.
Last month, Mr Cull wrote a series of letters to government ministers asking for talks on the future of the building, which has been mothballed since May this year.
Its fate would depend on how its earthquake strengthening requirements and costs, contained in a business case now before the minister, appealed to the Government.
Although there was little initial response from the ministers, Mr Cull had since received a written reply from Mrs Adams.
In it, she thanked Mr Cull for his letter and said she was replying on behalf of all five ministers approached by the DCC.
She reiterated it was her ''hope and expectation'' court services would be returned to the 1902 building, but said the project would come ''at a significant cost''.
She would be ''remiss in my responsibilities'' if she gave an unequivocal commitment to return services to the building without first weighing up the costs.
Mrs Adams said her experience showed constructive engagement was best achieved when parties met ''on common ground''.
''I look forward to engaging further with the Dunedin City Council as this project progresses.''