87-year-old building comes tumbling down

The progressive demolition of the Cavendish Chambers is under way in central Ashburton. PHOTO...
The progressive demolition of the Cavendish Chambers is under way in central Ashburton. PHOTO JONATHAN LEASK / LDR
The demolition of an 87-year-old building in Ashburton is under way to make way for a car park.

The red brick building at 255 Havelock St is being torn down and will be replaced with car parks for Te Whare Whakatere, Ashburton’s new library and civic centre.

Ashburton District Council chief executive Hamish Riach said the demolition of the earthquake-prone Cavendish Chamber building began at the end of October, starting with the asbestos removal.

The contractor has been working to salvage fittings and fixtures from the interior of the building for recycling.

“When the contractor is ready to bring the building down it will happen fairly quickly.”

Once the rubble is cleared the site will become a car park for visitors, and is anticipated to be completed by the end of January.

“The public car park was scheduled to be completed by January 31 and remains on track to meet the original date.”

Council staff are still set to move in and operate from the new building from December 18, but due to construction delays the library opening has been pushed back to January 22.

Out the front of Te Whare Whakatere, the $2.45 million revitalisation of Baring Square East is on track to be completed by the end of the year, Riach said.

As part of the revamp, some of the existing features have had a facelift.

The arbors, dubbed the 'whalebones', which were installed when the square was last redeveloped to mark centenary celebrations for the Ashburton Borough in 1978, have had a deep clean.

Community consultation in 2020 around the square’s renovation split public opinion on the retention of the precast concrete archway arbors.

Infrastructure and open spaces group manager Neil McCann said the council decided to keep them, but four of the original arbors have been removed.

“One was taken down in 2019 because it was structurally unsound and we took down three more to balance the square during this current redevelopment.”

The central water feature, founding father John Grigg statue, the Frontiersman Memorial, and Lew Summers' 'love sculpture’ all remain in place.

The Boer War Memorial, installed in 1903 and moved a few meters in the 1978 remodel, was moved to Baring Square West last month.

By Jonathan Leask
Local Democracy Reporter

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