Old Petone Court House
Media Release: 26 September 2014
In 2008 the Hutt City Council issued Wellington Institute of Technology (WelTec) with a notice under the Buildings Act in respect of 13 Elizabeth Street Petone, commonly known as the old Petone Court house. The notice followed up earlier notices and required WelTec to carry out earthquake strengthening of the building or demolish the building by 30 June 2008.
WelTec then set about obtaining a structural engineering report, commissioning a Conservation Plan and obtaining price estimates to make the Court house compliant with New Building Standards. Temporary reinforcing was put in place at the Court house when exterior walls needed to be supported following a series of earthquakes in Wellington in 2013.
Current cost estimates of earthquake strengthening of the building are that it could be up to $800,000. WelTec as a mainly publicly funded tertiary education organisation, does not have funds available to earthquake strengthen and restore a building that has no suitability for educational purposes.
In 2012 WelTec ran a publicly advised Expressions of Interest process inviting any individual or group who might be interested in taking over the Court House to come forward. Although a number of information packs were sent out no Expressions of Interest were received. This was disappointing, but understandable given the cost of restoration.
WelTec’s attention then turned to looking at alternative options for the site. This was particularly important as the building in its current state as well as being structurally unsafe, is rundown, covered in graffiti and detracts from the other street frontages of Elizabeth Street. The Court house is also very near an early childhood centre, Te Whare Ako run by WelTec.
A brief was provided to architects Designgroup Stapleton Elliot to create an attractive public space that would commemorate the old Petone Court house and provide a landmark of the Court house by utilising bricks from the building in the design and layout. A copy of the concept design is attached. This shows the front façade of the Court house preserved and supported in a garden setting with seating and a new park area with existing trees preserved and new plantings.
Storyboards will be a feature of the garden with the history of the Court house showcased. WelTec design students will be involved in the development of these with creative elements incorporated as per the recently completed Petone mural on the corner of Jackson and Fitzherbert Streets. The input of local historical groups will be sought to ensure the information displayed is accurate.
The Designgroup Stapleton Elliot design for WelTec forms part of a request to the Hutt City Council which WelTec has lodged today for a resource consent application to demolish the building at 13 Elizabeth Street Petone. The cost of the Courthouse Park as presented is estimated at more than $100k although a tender process for this has yet to be undertaken. This cost would be met by WelTec and would enhance the site allowing members of the local community to enjoy the garden area.