The Trafalgar Centre’s future is uncertain, and could be bulldozed unless a solution that doesn’t cost tens of million of dollars can be found. Photo: Andrew Board.

It could be curtains for Trafalgar Centre


If the cost to bring the Trafalgar Centre’s foundations up to standard remains at more than $20 million, then expect to see it bulldozed.

Nelson City Council closed the city’s only major events’ centre in December and last week released previously confidential reports to the public. Those reports showed how the centre would likely fail in a significant earthquake, as the northern end of the centre is built on poor soil. To fix the problem could cost up to $27 million, according to one of the reports and lawyers’ advice said the council should close the facility as they would be liable under the health and safety act if people died.

But some of the information in one of the reports was questioned by members of the public, including how deep the foundations were. Official advice was three metres, but resident Kerry Neal found an old newspaper clipping that reported the foundations were ten metres deep. That forced councillors to tell engineers to pay a visit to the centre and find out exactly how deep they were.

But Nelson mayor Rachel Reese says even if the foundations are deeper it doesn’t change the risk, as it’s the sideways movement that will cause the damage. She says the councillors are determined to do everything they can to get the Trafalgar Centre up and running, without it costing tens of millions of dollars.

Rachel says she has asked another engineer to have a look over all the reports, to see if he can think of any other solutions. “I’m desperate to do everything we can to find a solution for the Trafalgar Centre.”

If that can’t happen, she says the likely preference would be to pull it down and rebuild it with Rutherford Park still the most likely location. “It could be that we turn a new building around or put it elsewhere on Rutherford Park, there’s a big area there so there are options.”

She said there were other sites closer to the CBD but those wouldn’t be explored until the Trafalgar Centre had been completely written off. She said the council hopes to have all the information it requires to make a final decision by mid-June “at the absolute latest”.

If a new building was to go ahead she says decisions would have to be made around what it would look like and whether it would include facilities for performing arts.