14 Jul 2015

Council joins campaign for historic courthouse

6:45 pm on 14 July 2015

Dunedin City Council is joining efforts to get the Government to commit to re-opening the city's historic courthouse.

The historic Dunedin courthouse.

The Category 1 building is awaiting earthquake strengthening. Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

The court has been closed so repairs could be made to its quake-prone tower, but the Courts Minister has refused to give any guarantees about when the repairs will be done.

Defence barrister Anne Stevens has been campaigning to save the Category 1 historic stone building since it was fully closed two months ago, and yesterday Dunedin city councillors unanimously joined her campaign.

Councillor David Benson-Pope said the council had protected and strengthened many buildings at great cost and he could not understand why the Government was dithering.

"People have got a responsibility to conserve heritage buildings, especially Category 1 listed buildings. This one happens to be owned by the Government and they're not doing the business - they need to front up to it."

The council's finance committee has voted to make urgent representations to a range of ministers, and coordinate a taskforce of interested parties to push the issue.

Courts Minister Amy Adams is sticking to her line that a decision will be made by Cabinet after a business case has been developed, which is due next month.

Heritage New Zealand's Otago Southland area manager, Jonathan Howard, said his office had been working with the Ministry since 2012 on various plans.

Mr Howard said the ministry was doing its best on a complex project.

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