Work is under way to convert the former home of acclaimed New Zealand artist Bill Sutton into a community centre and house museum showcasing his life and art.

The Templar Street home, in the residential red zone, will be gifted to Christchurch City Council by the Crown after the restoration project is complete so that Sutton’s legacy lives on. 

The property will be be managed and maintained by the  Sutton Heritage House and Garden Charitable Trust, who plan to use the facility to run tours about the life and work of  Bill Sutton and also to use the house for a range of community programmes and public meetings. 

Sutton Heritage House and Garden Charitable Trust co-chair Dame Ann Hercus says it is exciting to see the project coming closer to being a reality.

"We believe Bill’s home will become an attraction, it really is a special place, culturally very significant to the city, and we’re pleased we’ve been able to help in securing its future.”

The restoration of Sutton's former home is expected to be complete and the facility open to the public in March 2020. 

Land Information New Zealand (LINZ), which manages the red zone on behalf of the Crown, has been working closely with the Council, and the Sutton Heritage House and Garden Charitable Trust on the home's restoration and conversion.

LINZ Chief Executive Gaye Searancke says the restoration of the significant site, which is protected by a covenant, marks the start of wider regeneration plans for the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor. 

“It’s an honour for LINZ to be involved in this project which, once complete, will bring new life to this special home,” says Ms Searancke.

“As kaitiaki of this land, we are always looking for new ways to support the use of the residential red zone and this is just another way we can help make that happen.''