Work on the project which includes the Town Hall, Horticultural Hall and council’s administration block, is set to start in 12 months with a meeting planned for December to finalise designs.
The closure of the Town Hall follows discovery by engineers, who have conducted analysis on the entire civic precinct, that the inner lining of the east and west walls of the building, between the upstairs balcony seating and the stage area, is not reinforced.
Engineers have confirmed although the hall has stood strong for more than 50 years, in a significant earthquake there is a high risk these walls could be dangerous.
Chief Executive Tony Stallinger says the decision to close the hall was not taken lightly.
“When engineers discovered the inner lining of the walls needed to be reinforced we set about finding a safe, short-term bracing solution that would enable us to keep the building open while protecting the safety of people using the hall.
“However we’ve discovered a temporary bracing solution would be too expensive and would disrupt the use of the hall over coming weeks anyway.
“Closing the hall and working on a long-term solution to strengthen, modernise and reinvigorate not only the Town Hall, but the entire civic precinct, is going to provide our city with facilities that are not only safer, but more suited to the immediate and future needs of our community.
“We understand the closure will upset the plans of people who have booked the hall, but given bracing the walls is no longer an option, closure is the only way we can ensure their safety.
“Everyone with a Town Hall booking during the next 12 months will be contacted and we will work with them to investigate other venue options.”
Event organiser Mark Hampton says “this is a real blow but we understand council’s decision, and hugely appreciate their help in shifting this Saturday’s ‘Deadly Debut 18’ (national kick-boxing event) to the Wellington Indian Centre.”