The University has applied to the Wellington City Council for a change to the District Plan so that it can demolish the Gordon Wilson Flats, which are uninhabitable due to safety concerns.
“The site is an important part of Victoria University of Wellington’s future development plans and presents a great opportunity for positive inner-city development,” says Vice-Chancellor Professor Grant Guilford.
It is envisaged that the site would be the University’s front door to the city and provide a safe and attractive public pedestrian link route between the University and the City.
“The short term plan is to demolish the building and landscape the site. This will remove what is a potentially dangerous building and allow time for the University to consider the next steps. In the medium term, we would look to develop a pathway for people to access the Kelburn campus. The details of how that would best be done still need to be explored,” says Professor Guilford.
In the longer term, the University would build on the site, ensuring integration between the City and the Kelburn campus.
The application to the Council outlines the parameters the University would use to design any future buildings.
“Having explored all options, the University believes this course of action is in the best interests of all concerned as it is not viable for the current building to be strengthened and refurbished. We have also talked to neighbours who are unanimously in favour of our proposal to remove the building.”
Housing New Zealand commissioned an inspection of Gordon Wilson Flats in 2012—this found that the building needed urgent remedial work to its facade.
The inspection discovered significant corrosion of the metal structures holding the concrete facade in place. Subsequent investigation carried out by structural engineers has found the foundations are also seriously compromised, making seismic strengthening impractical.