The Marlborough A&P Show showed it was as strong as ever this weekend, even after 146 years, but the 93-year-old grandstand at the Blenheim park was anything but – its broken windows and graffiti a sad background.
Former Marlborough A&P Association president Tim Leslie said he had watched the grandstand turn from showground hub to derelict building, and it was “time for action”.
“It’s a waste. It should come down. We can’t use it, and everyone agrees there’s a need for it to come down,” Leslie said.
The Marlborough District Council decided at an assets and services committee in February that a resource consent would be sought to remove the building’s heritage status to allow its demolition.
In making the decision, the council acknowledged the heritage aspects of the structure, but said its demolition would future-proof the A&P Park.
But Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga submitted against the consent. The application received three submission in total, the other two were from the A&P Association and the park’s other user, Marlborough Football, who both wanted the building bowled. A hearing will now take place in March next year.
Heritage NZ central region area manager Alice Dangerfield, who submitted on behalf of the organisation, said the park would see a loss of heritage values if the earthquake-damaged building was knocked down.
A checklist provided by the organisation for assessing demolition proposals said historic buildings should not be demolished unless in very rare circumstances, such as when a building was “beyond repair”.
Demolishing the derelict grandstand was expected to cost the council about $168,000, while repairs would cost $518,000.
Leslie, also a past chairman of Marlborough Football, said if Heritage NZ thought the grandstand should stay, then it should fork out the funds for its repair.
At only 6 per cent of the new building standard – compared to the necessary 33 per cent – the grandstand had been fenced off for the past seven years.
Another former association president Chris Jones said on Friday the building should be demolished to make way from something else.
“I think it’s got to come down. It’s not one thing or another at this stage,” he said. “The sheep pens on the showgrounds are special, but the grandstand is a waste of space.”
A&P Park regular Nickie Pharland agreed, saying the old grandstand needed to go.
“They’ve not done anything to it since [the] Christchurch [earthquakes]. It’s unusable and taking up land space,” she said. “If we can’t fix it, then we shouldn’t keep it.”
Food vendor Yvonne Coutman said she wasn’t sure why the grandstand couldn’t be fixed, like other earthquake-affected buildings in New Zealand.
“A heritage listing isn’t something we should just shrug off.”
Blenheim man Trent Lindsay said the repair costs would be better spent on a bigger and better grandstand.
Heritage NZ planned to speak at the hearing on March 19. It would face off against Marlborough Football and the Marlborough A&P Association, who planned to talk at the hearing in support of demolition.
The hearing would take place in front of an independent commissioner.
The Marlborough Express