The Council’s Civic Precinct Steering Group oversees all three projects and funding for each project is considered during the Draft Annual Plan process. The projects are:
The Civic Centre on Laings Road was designed in the 1950s according to Garden City and Modern Movement principles. Like many buildings of its time, it was recently found to be in need of seismic strengthening to meet current earthquake codes. In 2014, the building was repiled and strengthened, with the original north and south facades retained, along with the roof and a section of internal structure to the north side. Council staff moved back into the refurbished building in 2016.
Lower Hutt’s Town Hall and adjacent Horticultural Hall were also built in the 1950s and comprised a fine group of post-Modernist buildings located in Riddiford Garden.
However in the mid-2000s experts advised that the Town Hall was at risk of collapse in a moderate earthquake and the Horticultural Hall met just 14% of current standards, with an estimated cost of $6.5 million just to strengthen the existing buildings.
After consultation with the public in 2014, Council decided to retain and strengthen the Town Hall and demolish the Horticultural Hall. A new multi-purpose Events Centre was designed to provide a modern, flexible space for events, multi-day exhibitions and conferences. It adds to a suite of Council facilities across the city which are available to meet a range of community needs and budgets.
The process of considering design options generated a lot of public interest and debate on the heritage value of the buildings. In particular, the Town Hall was considered to be an excellent example of post-Modernist architecture. Council worked with the Historic Places Trust and the Hutt Architects’ Sole Practitioner group on ways to retain heritage by strengthening and refurbishing the Town Hall and Council Administration building. The retention of these buildings, even though they are not protected, ensures that the Civic Precinct retains its character and is able to continue to serve its purpose in a new era.
The Civic Precinct projects aim to create a vibrant people-friendly community space and greater integration and connections with the Riddiford Garden, War Memorial Library, Little Theatre, Dowse Art Museum, Dowse Square and Laings Road Council building.
Read more on the projects