Thu, May 2, 2024 2:38 PM

Former Blenheim gallery site to become green space


Maia Hart

The former site of the Blenheim art gallery will be developed into a “simple, no fuss” green space.

A council committee has agreed the work - expected to cost about $50,000 - should be done to tidy up the area, although the space could end up being needed for an extension of the council’s building.

The gallery, on the corner of Seymour St and Alfred St, was demolished in December last year, after its seismic rating was calculated at 38 per cent NBS (New Building Standard).

PHOTO 2: The 560m² site is on a busy corner near the council building, Blenheim courthouse and Blenheim School. Photo: Maia Hart/LDR

At an economic, finance and community committee meeting on Tuesday, the council’s projects and contracts manager Maighan Watson said the green space would include the tidying of edges, footpaths, grass and irrigation.

As part of the council’s draft long-term plan, chief executive Mark Wheeler had outlined in a report that funding would be needed to investigate the possibility of expanding the council’s building.

That report had highlighted the site as a possible area, about 560m², for the extension.

But given the review was scheduled for 2025-26, council staff recommended the area be turned into a “low maintenance” green space, Maighan said.

PHOTO 4: The gallery had been found to be an earthquake risk. Photo: Supplied/Stuff

The demolished building, which at one time was Blenheim’s public library, was constructed in 1958 and after several conversions, became home to the gallery in 1999. The gallery moved into its new space Te Kahu o Waipuna, which it shared with Blenheim’s new library, in May last year.

There was $23,500 left over from the demolition project that would be used for the green space development, with the remaining $30,000 to come from the council’s land subdivision account, which meant the project did not impact ratepayers.

Wairau-Awatere ward councillor Gerald Hope asked Maighan if there was a timeline for maintenance and safety upgrades to the intersection that the site was next to.

He added that while he supported the proposal, the council would be spending money on what was “just a demolition site”.

“Christchurch is a great example of the part of how you live with devastation,” he said.

“I like green space. Yes, it will be used, it may not be used for a building extension for some years.”

Maighan said when the building was demolished, Marlborough Roads had taken a look at the corner.

“What we found was that if that corner was nibbled off that it would likely increase speed for around that corner, particularly the school area,” Maighan said.

“It was deemed that there were other methods we could use to improve the safety there.”

A corner site: The committee agreed the area should be tidied up given its location. Photo: Supplied/Maia Hart

There was budget for these improvements in the next financial year, Maighan said.

Marlborough mayor Nadine Taylor thought turning the area into a green space was the most practical option.

She said given its location opposite to Seymour Square, which she described as Marlborough’s “premium” park, it was important to tidy up the site.

The committee voted in favour of the work, which was subject to full council sign off on May 16.

LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air.

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