History & heritage  |  27 Feb 2020

The owner of a landmark Christchurch heritage building has been granted extra time to complete a huge restoration project.

Christchurch City Council’s Sustainability and Community Resilience Committee today agreed to an 18 month extension to allow further work to be carried out on McLean’s Mansion.

The decision gives The McLean’s Mansion Charitable Trust, which owns the Manchester St building, until 8 June 2021 to complete the restoration.

Work on the building is underway and part of a Central City Landmark Heritage Grant has already been released, but the scale of the project and the amount of preparatory work required has meant the initial time frames were not met.

The heritage grant, for $1.9 million, was approved by the Council in  December 2016. A previous extension, granted in June 2018, gave a projected completion date of December 2019.

Committee Chair Sara Templeton says the restoration is extensive and complex but the committee believes the final result will be well worth the wait.

"This is a very significant building that really is a landmark in the city. We want to give the owner every opportunity to restore it to a high standard so it can once again be used and enjoyed by residents and visitors."

The Trust has started stabilising, retaining and seismically upgrading the building and a main contractor has been appointed.

Reusable heritage components have been protected, stored and catalogued as necessary and work is proceeding on the new structural elements required for its future use as an art gallery.

McLean’s Mansion, originally called Holly Lea, was damaged in the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes and has been vacant since that time. It is scheduled as Highly Significant in the Christchurch District Plan and is listed Category I by Heritage New Zealand.

The house was designed for wealthy philanthropist Allan McLean by the architect Robert England and built in 1899-1900.

The Jacobean Revival-style homestead has 53 rooms and its former uses include a home for women who had fallen on hard times, a dental school and a music academy.

Two other heritage buildings receive financial help from the Council

The Sustainability and Community Resilience Committee today agreed to two grants of $600,000 each towards the restoration of the former State Insurance Building on Worcester St and the former Wellington Woollen Mills building on Lichfield St.

The money will come from the Central City Landmark Heritage Grant Funding Scheme, in place until 2021, which the Council set up after the earthquakes to help owners retain, repair and strengthen the central city’s remaining heritage buildings and encourage regeneration around them.