Wellington library to remain closed for more than a year

1:19 pm on 12 July 2019

The fate of Wellington's Central Library won't be revealed for at least a year.

Wellington central library shut over earthquake concerns.

The community will be consulted about what they want from a library. Photo: RNZ / Kymberlee Fernandes

The building was found to be earthquake-prone in March after an engineering assessment found the three-storey building's precast concrete floors could collapse in a big one.

Council chief executive Kevin Lavery said there would be no quick or easy fixes for the library, but the immediate focus had been on setting up two smaller, pop-up libraries in the CBD.

A third, larger centrally located library and a warehouse were still being planned, he said.

"Our focus now is to determine what the engineering implications and challenges are, and possible solutions for the central library building.

"These challenges are complex and need to be fully understood before any decisions can be made," he said.

Council would engage an independent specialist to facilitate a process to identify potential engineering solutions in August, he said.

From there, the council would commission detailed engineering assessments on the possible solutions - including indicative costs - as well as peer reviews of that advice.

It would also consult with the community about what they wanted from a library, Mr Lavery said.

That work would be "a rigorous process and will take well over a year to complete," he said.

Those decisions would need to take account of Te Ngākau Civic Square, where there are multiple damaged buildings requiring repair.

RNZ is aware of at least three developers who've offered to buy or strengthen the library, or build a new one to be leased back to the city.

"Despite speculation, the council is not in discussions with any third party around partnerships or deals relating to the future of the building. It's much too soon to be having those conversations," Mr Lavery said.

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