Church hall fails quake test


Another prominent Nelson building has had its doors closed after it failed an earthquake safety report.

Unite Church on Rutherford St decided to shut the doors on one of its buildings immediately after it received the results of the test last month. It has since moved all of its activities, including the Sunday morning service, to the smaller hall on the same site, which passed the same examination.

It’s the latest in the number of Nelson buildings that have undergone earthquake reports and failed, with many closing their doors and others receiving strengthening.

Minister Paul Burton says the decision to close the building was straightforward but he isn’t certain of the church’s future as any repair work or replacement would most likely cost tens of thousands of dollars, if not more.

“We couldn’t see how we could make any other decision in the current climate. There was some talk that we could continue to use it as it is safe for anything other than in a significant earthquake but we couldn’t do that so we closed it.”

The church commissioned an engineering report due to the Christchurch earthquake and to get some charity after insurance premiums “skyrocketed”.

The initial report gave the building a rating of 11 per cent, a building must get a rating of at least 33 per cent to pass the test.

Paul says the church is getting familiar with operating out of the old hall again, decades after it moved its Sunday service out of it and into the auditorium.

“It’s adequate, but much smaller and we have issues about the future. We’ve had to compress our children’s programme. But we’re not about buildings, we use buildings. But in saying that everyone likes to have a home and for it to be nice.”

Unite Church has been at its Rutherford St site since 1882.

Meanwhile in Richmond, the A&P Association will not reveal whether its 89 year old grandstand has passed or failed an earthquake safety review, less than one month before its annual A&P Show.

Opus has confirmed the review has been conducted but would not disclose the results, as it would breach the client’s privacy.

Association property manager and treasurer John Harwood says “there is nothing the public should know about. At this stage we’re not reporting on it anywhere.”