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Fitzherbert Rebuild Project

About the project

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About the project

The Christchurch earthquake in February 2011 led Gisborne District Council to assess its buildings built prior to 1976 (when changes to the building code were introduced). 

Engineers found that our 1954 administration building was earthquake prone. In October 2011 Council's building consents team issued a notice to vacate or repair the building by October 2016.

Background to the project

Options to move staff

As part of the Long Term Plan 2012 - 2022, we investigated options for accommodating staff in the remaining Fitzherbert Street buildings and fixing the 1954 building. We had the 1980 and 2001 buildings assessed for safety too.

Severe structural issues were found in the 2001 building, well below the national building standard.  And both buildings were found to be below the standard of Council’s Earthquake Prone Building Policy.

We sought reviews to confirm the findings with a number of other engineers and professionals who gave options for solutions. The options included indications of costs for strengthening, refurbishments, a partial rebuild or a completely new building of varying sizes to accommodate all staff.

Council checked if it was possible to move to another building as a permanent solution. We looked at 16 buildings, which needed to have both ground floor access for the public and enough room for all staff and meet 67% of Importance Level 4 (IL4) for civil defence emergencies. 
The buildings we looked at didn’t meet all of those criteria and to purchase or lease and refurbish to our requirements would have cost more than a new building.

Building solutions 

We narrowed down the solutions to strengthening, rebuilding on the exiting concrete pad or a complete new build. We sought more detailed costs for the 3 options from 4 suppliers.
Strengthening was slightly cheaper, but only in the short-term. On a whole-of-life-assessment a rebuild is a better community investment.

The preferred option is a smaller, single-storey building with sustainable design reducing energy and operational costs by around $30m over the building’s 50-year life span.

The costs of strengthening were similar to those of a new build, but didn’t offer the same level of efficiency across the complex.

In May 2014 Council approved a complete rebuild as the preferred option. We consulted the community on the rebuild as part of the Long Term Plan 2015-2025. The 2 submissions received did not oppose the rebuild so Council proceeded, working with Chow:Hill architects to further develop the design of the new building.

Where we are today

Total project budget $12.5m - $1.5m to be used for relocation of staff and fit-out costs for temporary accommodation and $11m for the new building, with construction due to start mid-2016 and be completed late 2017.

We looked at how to make this cost-effective for the community and in September 2015 staff put forward options to fund the project.
We explored an option to transfer ownership to our council controlled trading company (CCTO) - Gisborne Holdings Limited (GHL). This means ratepayers are not, in the short or long-term, paying for the rebuild through increased rates.

We then consulted the community on the options to pay for the rebuild and some objections were received. After considering the submissions, in November 2015, Council voted by 9 votes to 5 to proceed with both the rebuild and the transfer to GHL.


February - July 2011


Christchurch earthquake in February led Council to assess its building built prior to 1976.
The 1954 building is assessed and deemed earthquake prone
(33% NBS at IL2 or 19% NBS at IL4)

October 2011 - Formal notice givenExclamation

Council served notice by our building consents section under the Building Code to vacate or repair 1954 building by October 2016.

November 2011 - November 2012 - Council explores optionsClipboard GDC Blue

Investigated options to rebuild, strengthen or remove the 1954 building.

Considered the options of incorporating more staff into the remaining 2001 and 1980 buildings, both are assessed for safety.

June 2012 - change of Chief Executive.

December 2012 - earthquake proneClipboard GDC

Opus reports the 2001 building is earthquake prone. Results are immediately peer reviewed.

March 2013 - peer review confirms results

Clendon Burns and Parks Structural Engineers agree with the December 2012 Opus report; the 2001 building is prone to a catastrophic collapse.

April 2013 - move approvedTruck

Council approved to move staff from the 2001 building for safety reasons.

The 2001 building is closed and staff relocated off-site. 

Now two buildings are earthquake prone more permanent staff accommodation solutions  investigated.

July - October 2013 - expressions of interest Clipboard Cyan

9 professional groups (architects, property developers, construction companies) and their engineers provide options for solutions.

Costs ranged from $6m - $17m with an average around $8m- $9m.

Suppliers agreed that the 2001 and the 1954 building were uneconomical to strengthen.

January - March 2014 Clipboard Green

4 professional groups provide detailed costs to either strengthen the existing buildings to 100% and 67% NBS at IL2 and IL4, or to rebuild a new building, or to rebuild a new building using the existing concrete footing.

May 2014 - rebuild approved Hat Man

Based on whole life costs Council approves a complete rebuild on the Fitzherbert St site.

The cost to strengthen (to IL2 67%) ranged from $7.86m to $10.03m.

Construction cost for a new building ranged from $8.5m to $10.2m.

Chow:Hill is appointed to develop a concept for the new building.

October 2015 - ownership transfer to GHL Keys

Consulted with the public in September.

Council agreed to transfer the municipal building assets to GHL

GHL will be responsible for building the new administration building at Fitzherbert Street. 

Amendment to LTP approved cost of $12.5m - includes $1.5m relocation costs.

December 2015 - concept approved Tick

Council approves the concept developed by Chow:Hill for a modern, purpose built office facility 100% NBS of IL2 and IL4.

Project options

Four architects were asked to give their plans for 3 different options:

Option 1 - to build a totally new administration centre on the same Fitzherbert Street site.
Option 2 - to earthquake-strengthen the buildings to 100% of the current Building Code.
Option 3 - to build a new administration centre on top of the existing concrete foundation slabs.

The preferred option is to build an environmentally sustainable building that incorporates modern technology and building techniques to reduce running costs.

We also need to ensure our administration building is at the level known as Importance Level 4 to ensure civil defence operations can continue in an emergency. This is the same required of hospitals, fire stations, police, and St Johns buildings.

Benefits of a new build

1. Creates a fit-for-purpose building, with improved layout and use, to meet Council’s needs today and in the future.
2. Makes it easier and cheaper to run and maintain – sustainable design with more efficient heating, cooling and lighting helped by better natural light, orientation to the sun, ventilation and views.
3. Easily incorporates new designs for earthquake protection without substantial costs.
4. Reduces risk of unknowns likely in a strengthening or partial rebuild and reduced financial risks from unforeseen structural problems.
5. Removes existing maintenance problems and outdated components like lifts and air-conditioning.
6. A smaller (from 4100m2 to 3100m2), modern single-storey building better fits working habits and technology.

More information

Read the frequently asked questions