New Zealand government buys CTV building

By John Macdonald

The New Zealand government has bought the site of a building that collapsed, killing 115 people during the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake, it was revealed today.

The purchase of the Canterbury Television (CTV) building site was part of a “larger plan to create a world-class new central Christchurch,” said a statement from the Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU).

The site had been cleared of rubble and building materials and “continues to be a poignant place for remembering those who died,” it said.

Most of the 185 people killed in the Feb. 22 quake died in the six-storey building, which collapsed and caught fire.

The CCDU had written to families of the CTV victims to advise them of the government purchase, said the statement.

Under the government’s reconstruction plan, the site would form part of the East Frame, a predominantly residential area with green open space on the edge of the new central business district.

CCDU director Warwick Isaacs said those involved in the design and planning of the East Frame were acutely aware of the sensitivities that surrounded the site.

“That is why we have been in contact with those affected families we have contact details for – to let them know about the change in ownership and to reassure them that access to the site will not change in the near future,” Isaacs said in the statement.

“Decisions are still to be made about the longer term use of the site, but those involved in the design and planning for the East Frame will be very mindful of what occurred at the CTV site, and this will be reflected in any decisions that are made.”

He was committed to keeping the families informed on key decisions regarding the site.

The government was also in negotiations to purchase the site of the PGC office building where 18 people died in the 6.3-magnitude quake.

A report by the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission of Inquiry in December last year detailed how the CTV building, which was designed in 1986 and completed around 1988, had a “design that was deficient in a number of important respects” and should never have been issued with a construction permit because it failed to comply with building regulations.

The commission also found the building was never properly structurally assessed after being damaged in strong earthquakes on Sept. 4 and Dec. 26, 2010, despite being inspected by three building officials.