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New Plymouth Barrett St hospital site demolition resumes

Work vehicles and cabins outside the former nurses’ home at the Barrett St site on Thursday.

VANESSA LAURIE/Stuff

Work vehicles and cabins outside the former nurses’ home at the Barrett St site on Thursday.

After a break of four years, demolition work at the old Barrett St hospital in New Plymouth is finally back under way.

The New Plymouth District Council (NPDC) has granted Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) resource consent to remove stockpiles of contaminated material – some of which is asbestos – and pull down seven non-heritage buildings.

The former nurses’ home, Dawson St gates and brick wall will remain as they are heritage listings.

VANESSA LAURIE/Stuff

The former nurses’ home, Dawson St gates and brick wall will remain as they are heritage listings.

The consent was granted on Tuesday, but NPDC did not issue any media statement, despite having been approached by Stuff last week for an update on the situation that was published on Saturday.

The former nurses’ home, Dawson St gates and brick wall will remain as they are Category A heritage listed in the district plan.

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On Thursday, workers were seen prepping the site.

LINZ estimated a total of 2900 cubic meters of material would need to be removed, but could not say how much of that is asbestos.

“Our contractors are experts in asbestos removal, and we will also have a licensed asbestos assessor on site to oversee this complex work,” Linz spokeswoman Caroline King wrote in an emailed statement.

“Dust suppression equipment will be used during the removal of the stockpiles to prevent the spread of any asbestos and only undertaken during ideal weather conditions.

“Airborne fibre monitoring will also be carried out daily by a qualified environmental consultant.

“Our contractors will also do everything they can to minimise disruption to neighbouring properties, which are fortunately some distance away from the work areas.

“This includes implementing demolition methodologies to keep noise to a minimum, and monitoring noise levels to ensure they meet the requirements of the resource consent.”

LINZ has managed the 7.6-hectare site on behalf of the Crown since 2016, when demolition work began.

The project ground to a halt after larger than anticipated amounts of asbestos were discovered in 2018, and could not continue without a resource consent to remove it.

Vegetation removal was taking place on Thursday.

VANESSA LAURIE/Stuff

Vegetation removal was taking place on Thursday.

LINZ project manager Matt Bradley said: “We’re pleased to be able to resume work to clear the site and expect to have this completed by mid this year.”

As well as NPDC, LINZ is working with Ngāti Te Whiti Hapū, Te Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa, environmental consultants and contractors.

The site is part of a Treaty settlement with Te Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa, who have first right of refusal once the site is cleared.

“Once the stockpiles and the non-heritage buildings are removed, we will continue working closely with Ngāti Te Whiti Hapū, Te Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa and our environmental consultants to determine if future work is required at the site,” Bradley said.

This would involve investigating the condition of the soil once the site is clear, to determine if any further remediation is necessary.

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