Temporary court site hopes

Gary Kircher.
Gary Kircher.
A new ''porta-court'' could still be used for Oamaru District Court hearings by the end of this month - if wrangles over where to place it can be resolved.

Although Courts Minister Chester Borrows announced in December a new Portacom (transportable building) courthouse would be transported from Christchurch to Oamaru, so that District Court hearings could be transferred from their present temporary home at the Oamaru Opera House, Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said the Ministry of Justice's preferred location for the facility was not ideal.

Mr Kircher said while the site, at the Eden St car park, ''could be made to work'', the Waitaki District Council did not think it was the best place for a temporary court.

''We believe there is too much conflict with current usage there and that it will impact on the use of the car park and the retail businesses that are nearby, as well as causing issues with the buses that park there.''

He said two other sites had been identified as possible locations, but neither was owned by the council. However, the council was keen to work with the ministry to find a solution, he said.

''We are doing everything we can to facilitate them getting on with the services and getting out of the opera house and into something that is more appropriate in the meantime, until the main courthouse is suitable for them to move back in to.''

The Oamaru courthouse, which is registered as a New Zealand Historic Places Trust category 1-listed building, was closed in November 2011, after it was deemed an earthquake risk.

The portacom court, which had been used to house court sessions in Christchurch following the 2011 earthquakes, was expected to be in place by February, and has been deemed a better facility than the opera house, which was always intended as a ''short-term'' solution.

In October 2012, the Ministry of Justice estimated it would take $5 million to bring the 129-year-old building up to building-strength standards, but extra engineering work completed at the end of last year reduced that cost to between $1 million and $2 million.


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